Now more than ever, many of us are conscientious about where we spend our money. After all, we want to know that the businesses we support are responsible and have a positive community impact.
This is especially important when it comes to the financial institution where we bank, borrow, and invest.
If you’re looking for a great financial partner that’s also great for your community, credit unions are the best option. Unlike the big national banks and online-only banks, credit unions are member-owned financial institutions that directly contribute to where you live, work, and worship. Members entrust their money to their credit union, just as they would deposit money in a bank, but that money stays in the community. Here are just a few of the ways that credit unions give back to their communities, and why you should consider joining.
#1: Financial Education & Funding
The data doesn’t lie. Americans struggle with financial knowledge. And although the U.S. is the world’s largest economy, the Standard & Poor’s Global Financial Literacy Survey ranks us 14th (tied with Switzerland) when measuring the proportion of adults in the country who are financially literate. To put that into perspective: the U.S. adult financial literacy level, at 57%, is only slightly higher than that of Botswana, whose economy is 1,127% smaller.
Luckily for you, credit unions are here to help!
Knowledge is power. And credit unions have a long history of providing financial education to their communities.
In fact, one credit union, Mountain Credit Union in Waynesville, NC, is so dedicated to empowering community members with financial knowledge, they participate in a Financial Literacy/Incentive Savings Program. The goal is to incentivize people to attend financial literacy classes and open a savings account. In 2019, participants collectively saved over $15,000!
In addition to arming you with the financial knowledge you need to succeed, credit unions also help build the foundation for local schools to prosper. InRoads Credit Union in St. Helens, OR has a program that donates 5¢ to a local high school every time a member swipes their debit card. Since starting the program 3 years ago, the credit union has already raised $146,000 for the 3 local schools.
Credit unions want you and your communities to succeed! Learn how you can join a credit union today.
#2: Community Involvement
Credit unions live by their motto “People Helping People”. They don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk every single day. Credit unions frequently sponsor events in your communities and raise money for local organizations. If you’ve ever participated in any local event, I can guarantee you’ve seen your local credit union volunteering time or sponsoring a booth.
Unity Catholic Federal Credit Union in Cleveland, OH recently donated $10,000 to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Cleveland to help during the COVID-19 crisis. Kelly Reddy, Business Development Manager at Unity Catholic FCU said “The credit union philosophy of ‘People Helping People’ has been realized with this donation.”
Another unique example of community involvement is Vibrant Credit Union’s ice cream bus. This credit union, a prominent pillar in Moline, IL, retrofitted a 1974 Volkswagen bus into a colorful way to brighten up their community, both literally and figuratively. The bus rolls through the community offering free ice cream. The credit union attends hundreds community events and hands out tens of thousands of ice cream treats.
Credit unions have your back – and your community’s too. Join a credit union today.
#3: Small Business Allies
Think about your favorite local coffee shop, restaurant, or boutique. The men and women who devote their lives to running these small businesses are your neighbors, your friends. Your community is enriched by these small businesses. And credit unions are some of the biggest allies a small business has. This has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recent data from the Small Business Administration shows credit unions issued 196,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and supported 1.8 million jobs. But beyond PPP loans, credit unions get creative to support “shopping local”.
Mazuma Credit Union in Overland Park, KS created the #LocalStrong initiative to help support locally owned businesses in the Kansas City Metro. The initiative distributed more than $5,000 amongst its 217 Mazuma Team Members to spend with local businesses of their choice. Mazuma’s President and CEO, Deonne Christensen noted, “Credit Unions have always been about people helping people, and we’re excited to be able to step up and contribute in these incredible ways. This is what being a credit union is about, and I am so proud of our abilities to expand past our walls and make a positive impact in our communities.”
Your community has likely reaped the benefits of a credit union. I challenge you to find a credit union near you to continue reinvesting in your community.