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News Now

CU System
CUs for Kids a cause-marketing model
MADISON, Wis. (12/17/10)--Credit Unions for Kids provides a model of how credit unions can work together to serve a cause, and how individual credit unions come up with a virtually endless list of ideas to raise funds and make a difference in their communities. The program traces its roots to 1986 when seven CEOs in Oregon and Southwest Washington got together and raised $1,700 for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. The program also began in Texas around the same time. In 1996, Credit Unions for Kids partnered with Children’s Miracle Network (now Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals). Today, Credit Unions for Kids collaborate with credit union chapters, leagues, trade organizations, publications, and business partners to raise funds to benefit 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. CEO involvement is critical to the success of any cause marketing program, said Kasey Rockwell, director of credit union development for the Credit Union Association of Oregon. “We’ve always had two CEOs who are co-chairs and in the beginning were really leaders in the community,” Rockwell added. “They encourage CEOs and other credit unions and put out challenges to come on board and start fundraising. Pretty soon the associations and leagues were supportive of the program as well.” Credit Unions for Kids is “near and dear” to Rockwell’s heart. In addition to working with helping credit unions raise money for Credit Unions for Kids in her current job, Rockwell’s father, Gary VandeVenter, was one of the original seven CEOs who started the program. VandeVenter was CEO of Northwest Farmers Insurance Group FCU--now Northwest Preferred FCU. Rockwell added that support from the CEO and the board is important internally and it is important to gain buy-in throughout the organization. To encourage buy in from employees show them what the charities do. Give them a tour. Or offer them volunteer opportunities. Rockwell makes sure she carves out time to take credit union employees on hospital tours. The Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is named after Credit Unions for Kids because of the organization’s fundraising. “When you get [employees] up there and they see what a difference they are making in helping kids have a better stay, it has a huge impact,” Rockwell said. Credit unions can start small and still have a big impact, she said. She served on a committee at First Tech CU, Beaverton, Ore., which held a Credit Union for Kids fundraising auction in the late 1980s. Back then, the auction items were mostly donated by employees, and might include such items as a batch of cookies each month for a year, or a day of water skiing with lunch served. Now hosted by OnPoint Community Credit Union, Portland, Ore., credit unions from Oregon and southwest Washington donate items, and this year the auction raised $124,000, with more than 250 people attending. (Editor’s note: This part two of a series of articles News Now is featuring on credit unions and cause marketing.)
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