Credit unions’ support for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals extends well beyond Miracle Jeans Day, which occurs on Sept. 18 and is sponsored by Credit Unions for Kids.
With their loyal membership and a strong history of community service, credit unions can be excellent cause marketers for CMN Hospitals and other worthy organizations throughout the year.
Cause marketing, which links a company or brand to a relevant social cause, is a win-win proposition, says Felicity Guerin, Credit Unions for Kids development manager for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. Your members want your credit union to be socially responsible, and to take pride in contributing to these campaigns.
Prospective members take notice as well, she says.
Consider these examples of credit unions raising money for local CMN Hospitals while reinforcing their “people helping people” philosophy:
►Robins Federal Credit Union donated $1 for every “like” the $1.7 billion asset credit union in Warner Robins, Ga., received on its Facebook page in July. Thanks to a big social media push that included Facebook advertisements, the campaign topped $5,000.
►Cabrillo Credit Union took to Twitter, issuing consistent cause marketing messages for a fund drive in May for Rady Children’s Hospital, its local CMN Hospital. The $196 million asset credit union in San Diego, Calif., urged members to get involved, explained the importance of the hospital, gave updates on donation levels, and thanked members for their support. The effort generated more than $25,000.►Patelco Credit Union brought its CU4Kids Holiday Icon Campaign to life in Pleasanton, Calif., with in-branch snowmen displays. The $3.9 billion asset credit union raised $30,000 from its members, mostly through $1 donations.
According to a 2013 Cone Communications study, 91% of consumers are likely to switch brands to a competitor similar in price and quality that supports a cause, while 78% would donate to a cause supported by a company they trust.
Additionally, 31% of global consumers believe businesses should change the way they operate to align with greater social and environmental needs. Just 6% believe businesses exist to make money for shareholders and aren’t responsible for supporting social or environmental issues.
As nonprofit, community focused financial institutions, credit unions aren’t supporting charities to boost their bottom line, but because it’s the right thing to do.
So, often it doesn’t seem necessary to tell members about your good deeds, Guerin notes.
But in today’s changing landscape, spreading the word about community engagement might not just be good for business but necessary.
The value of information
Credit unions have and know their value proposition. They’ve already established relationships with charities, projects, and causes in their communities.
But many credit unions don’t effectively communicate the good they do, Guerin says. In essence, credit unions have mastered the “cause” part of the equation but need to focus on the “marketing” aspect.
Consumers have never placed more emphasis on a company’s commitment to “doing good,” according to a recent Penn Schoen Berland Corporate Social Responsibility Branding Survey.
Social responsibility remains important to consumers despite the recession and is a differentiator for products and brands. Some consumers will even pay more for products with added social benefits, according to the Cone Communications survey.
In the social media age, consumers believe they have a right to be informed about all aspects of the companies they support, including their charitable works.
Supporting a respected cause establishes you as a relevant member of a community. And studies show consumers are more likely to pay attention to all your communications when they know you have a deep commitment to a cause.
Where to begin?
Consider these five tips as you design a cause marketing effort, Guerin says:
1. Pinpoint the community initiatives your credit union does well, and highlight those good deeds in internal and external communication efforts.
2. Develop a clear impact statement as part of your cause marketing strategy. Employees and members want to know exactly what their money will fund and how they’re helping the community. Make sure your messaging is clear, concise, heartfelt, and easily repeatable.
3. Publicize your efforts on the channels you control, such as your website and social media. Seek media coverage and consider advertising.
4. Make word-of mouth efforts a key part of your cause marketing strategy. Social media and traditional media outlets matter, but most consumers want to hear about causes directly.
5. Engage your employees and members in the cause; help them feel good about themselves, and give them a story to tell their friends.
Visit CU4Kids.org for information on turnkey cause marketing materials that support CMN Hospitals, and share your fund-raising highlights and community impact at UniteForGood.org and CUSocialGood.org.