Credit unions that go above and beyond in looking out for members’ interests demonstrate the principles of the national Unite for Good campaign—removing barriers, creating awareness, and fostering service excellence.
The campaign, launched at last year’s GAC by CUNA and the state leagues, rallies credit unions to work toward the goal in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
These credit unions demonstrate each of the three Unite for Good objectives:
1. Removing barriers: CU Association of the Dakotas (CUAD). South Dakota banks implored local lawmakers to impose taxes on credit unions, hoping to gain a foothold from which they could amplify their message nationally.
But credit union representatives and CUAD staff mounted an active defense, taking their message to local officials around the state, who either voted to table or take no action.
"When we tell our story, we win," says Jeff Olson, CUAD vice president of advocacy and awareness.
2. Creating awareness: Maps CU, Salem, Ore. Through an annual contest sponsored by its Community Foundation, the $471 million asset credit union has sparked novel approaches to combating societal challenges, winning a Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award for its efforts.
This year, three finalists pitched their ideas to improve Oregon youths’ transition out of foster care via videos on Maps’ Facebook page. The credit union awarded $1,000 to the finalist whose clip received the most “likes” and an additional $1,000 to a nonprofit chosen by Maps and the winner.
Maps’ Free Community Checking accounts fund the Foundation. The credit union donates a penny every time a member uses an account-related debit card to make a purchase.
3. Fostering service excellence: Ventura County CU (VCCU), Ventura, Calif. After observing payday lenders targeting local migrant workers, a $660 million asset credit union went on the offensive.
VCCU invested more than $100,000 in a program that has its representatives visit area farms to enroll workers and educate them about responsible financial services, including debit cards and mobile apps.
Several of the more than 200 previously unbanked new members have since saved enough money to purchase homes and cars. Last fall, VCCU partnered with a local agency to expand its migrant services and reached out to the Mixteco, an indigenous people from Mexico who don’t speak Spanish.
The Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service has issued a report examining the possibilities of the USPS offering affordable financial services products, with credit unions included in the mix.