By Danielle Scodellaro, CUNA Mutual Group
and Nick Coleman, CMN Hospitals
“Cause marketing” combines fundraising, employee participation, and publicity to create a charitable program that’s meaningful and sustainable. This strategy benefits the giver and the receiver of charitable donations. A perfect example is the partnership between credit unions, CUNA Mutual Group, and the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals.
The credit union industry has long been involved in fundraising for CMN Hospitals, with events such as the Cherry Blossom Run, Credit Union Miracle Day, etc. The industry formalized and branded this commitment by creating Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids).
CU4Kids offers credit unions fundraising guidance and turnkey campaigns for donations from employees and/or the community. Employees enthusiastically volunteer to staff CU4Kids fundraising events.
CUNA Mutual Group—in addition to its corporate and employee donations to CU4Kids—has been introducing credit unions to a relatively new funding mechanism, the “charitable donation account” (CDA).
The NCUA allows certain investments within a CDA that have the potential to earn higher returns, with additional risks, than certificates of deposit and other typical credit union investments. CUNA Mutual Group helps credit unions analyze the different risks these investments present, and closely track the CDA’s performance.
CUNA Mutual Group has seen many credit unions use CDAs to help boost their donations to CU4Kids:
- In 2018 alone, credit unions that have CUNA Mutual Group CDAs contributed more than $350,000 to CU4Kids.
- More than half of the credit unions with CDA accounts through CUNA Mutual Group made contributions to CU4Kids in 2018.
It bodes well for CU4Kids and other credit union causes that CDAs are growing quickly. According to NCUA Call Report data, taking into account additional account deposits as well as market returns, CDA balances increased 128% from the end of 2016 through 2018.2
5 Basic Cause Marketing Strategies
Your charitable donations can work much harder for your credit union if you follow some basic cause marketing strategies:
- Believe wholeheartedly in the cause
Connect with a cause that your board, management, and employees can all get behind. Give everyone a reason to be enthusiastic about participating in fundraising and volunteering.
- Align with a non-profit that supports your mission
Know your community’s greatest social concerns and build partnerships, perhaps even branch by branch (as long as the overall campaign is coordinated centrally).
- Forge a formal partnership, including marketing
Make your cause marketing a formal partnership — as with CU4Kids — and work together with the non-profit on specific goals. Share one another’s marketing platforms to increase awareness of what you’re doing together. Focus on social media to tap into those who are active in the cause you’ve chosen, and prompt other organizations to add their weight and credibility to your cause marketing efforts.
- Do more than donate money
Differentiate your credit union from other donors by engaging your staff in volunteer activities. This shows that your interest in the charity is sincere. It also leverages your best asset—your employees—as goodwill ambassadors.
- Show a clear impact
Document and communicate the results of your fundraising and volunteering. This can be the cornerstone of your cause marketing efforts—nothing speaks more eloquently or persuasively than positive results.
Danielle Scodellaro is an Executive Benefits Consultant for CUNA Mutual Group. Reach Danielle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nick Coleman is Director of Strategic Partnerships at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Reach Nick at email@example.com.