Strategic Volunteerism Sparks Success
'We have to work by design rather than default.'
MARIO D. MEJIA combines volunteerism and financial literacy to help the Department of the Interior Federal Credit Union build its membership and develop business.
“Through encouraging employees to volunteer, we’re capturing the heart of our sponsor, the Department of the Interior (DOI), which depends on 280,000 volunteers to help run public lands and conservation programs nationwide,” says Mejia, business development director at the $148 million asset credit union in Reston, Va.
With more than a decade of banking experience, Mejia stepped into the credit union movement and brought an interest in community involvement and a strategic mindset toward driving business.
“I’m not a fan of chasing after every idea. I’d rather create solutions by leveraging resources and needs to accomplish my goals,” Mejia says. “I’m not looking for quick fixes, but rather long-term relationships in targeted ways.”
Mejia began his quest by creating a philanthropic initiative directed at using financial wellness to meet the needs of the community. The program provided an opportunity for Department of the Interior Federal staff, members, and others to volunteer.
That sows the seeds for expanding membership, because the credit union’s charter makes volunteers eligible to join.
For Mejia, connecting with the community cultivates relationships with members, potential select employer groups (SEGs), and leaders in the area the credit union serves.
Since January 2014, members of the 34-person staff logged nearly 400 volunteer hours. Those efforts have contributed to more than 34 SEG-based and DOI events supporting public lands and conservation efforts, and have created several partnership opportunities to showcase Department of the Interior Federal’s financial literacy program.
“We have to work by design rather than default,” Mejia said. “What they’ve allowed me to do is marry my passion for community outreach to the job.”
The effort is building a stronger business base, too. Five SEGs have come on board directly through the volunteer networks, and under Mejia’s leadership the credit union has exceeded by 500% its goal of establishing new SEG relationships.
Additionally, Mejia has leveraged his credit union’s relationship with the DOI to feature two federal officials—DOI Secretary Sally Jewell and special trustee Vincent G. Logan—as keynote speakers for events surrounding the annual, springtime Credit Union Cherry Blossom Race in Washington, D.C.
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