Credit union advocates in Idaho, Oregon and Washington have new, data-rich tools to support their advocacy and public awareness work this year. The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) is providing its member credit unions with a suite of resources documenting credit unions’ economic and community impact.
The community data was collected in NWCUA’s Community Impact Reporting Tool (CIRT), which was created by the association to document credit unions’ focus on financial well-being, volunteerism and charitable contributions, and special lending to rural communities, first-time homebuyers and other populations that not-for-profit cooperative credit unions are uniquely positioned to serve.
The impressive economic impact report was prepared by ECONorthwest, one of the region’s most respected economic firms. In addition to data, the NWCUA is providing its members with communications collateral such as infographics, social media posts and a library of member stories, so they can customize and share the impact in their own communities.
“The economic and community impact reports document how credit unions collectively generate and deliver real, tangible value to members and communities,” said Troy Stang, NWCUA president/CEO. “Our strategic priority, in creating the Community Impact Reporting Tool, and in commissioning the economic study, is to position credit unions to help the public and policymakers understand exactly how credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative structure enables them to drive such impact.”
ECONorthwest has provided independent and relevant analysis to a diverse range of public agencies and private sector industries since 1974. In 2013, ECONorthwest’s groundbreaking study, The Myth of the Uneven Playing Field, analyzed bank and credit union data from 1948 to 2012, debunking bank claims that state and federal tax policies offered credit unions unfair competitive advantages over for-profit financial institutions.
The firm’s new economic impact analysis continues to support the positive impact that credit unions’ state and federal income tax exemptions have on consumers, communities and on each state’s economy.
ECONorthwest’s most recent study measured the jobs, economic output and income supported by Northwest credit unions, as well as the impact of the direct benefits credit unions are able to deliver to their members because of their unique structure. The analysis also documented Northwest credit unions’ services to members and communities from the onset of the pandemic through June 2020.
Doing Good Things in Difficult Times: Credit Unions’ COVID-19 Services
When many industries were forced to shut down and lay off workers, credit unions hired additional staff to help members, ECONorthwest found. The workforce at Idaho credit unions grew 3.2%, 1.3% in Oregon and 1.2% in Washington.
Other key findings include:
“Credit unions quickly and safely kept service flowing to members with technology, remote services and socially distanced operations,” Stang said. “They also served thousands of members who’d lost jobs or whose income had been interrupted, by providing emergency loans and options to skip payments, and waived millions in fees. Moving forward, Northwest credit unions will use their leadership voices and exemplary services to help guide communities back to financial well-being.
$11 Billion Economic Impact, and Growing Membership
In measuring Northwest credit unions’ economic contributions, ECONorthwest found credit unions in Idaho, Oregon and Washington delivered a $11 billion boost to their state’s economies in 2019.
Other topline takeaways include:
A Proven Community Footprint
The data documented in NWCUA’s Community Impact Reporting Tool measures not only volunteerism and charitable contributions, but also the relevant products credit unions provided to Main Street throughout 2019.
The survey finds:
“Credit unions were founded with the people helping people mission, and Northwest credit unions are living up to it, day in and day out,” said Jennifer Wagner, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer, NWCUA. “This data will underscore the credit union story.”
Visit the NWCUA’s 2021 Economic and Community Impact Data website to view the ECONorthwest reports, and to find more infographic resources.