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LISA MCCUEVICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS
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TOM SAKASHSTAFF NEWSWRITER

News Now

CU System
International fundraising emphasizes causes
MADISON, Wis (12/21/10--Credit unions are a worldwide movement, and U.S. credit unions have extended their cause marketing efforts wherever a helping hand is needed. Sometimes that translates to helping credit unions in other countries during times of crisis. When another world region is need of aid, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) typically appeals to the international credit union community for funds to assist with relief efforts in those areas. WOCCU’s foundation, the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, often works with the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to raise funds and organize relief efforts among U.S. credit unions. WOCCU worked closely with SANASA, Sri Lanka’s credit union federation and central liquidity facility, to rebuild damaged credit unions when South Asia was hit with a devastating earthquake and tsunami Dec. 26, 2004. The NCUF appealed to U.S. credit unions in support of WOCCU’s efforts. All told, U.S. credit unions, through their credit union leagues, contributed more than $726,090 to tsunami relief efforts (News Now June 13, 2005). As an example of how the leagues supported the efforts, the New York Credit Union Foundation (NYCUF) collected $63,906 in donations for relief of the tsunami victims in Indonesia. Fifty three New York credit unions, 58 individuals and the Metropolitan District of the New York State Credit Union League banded together to collect the funds, which were donated WOCCU(News Now Feb. 24, 2005) . Among the credit unions participating in the tsunami relief efforts was Mid-Hudson Valley FCU, Kingston, N.Y. Collection boxes were placed in each of their five offices while the credit union’s community relations committee announced they would match donations up to $2,500. With contributions from employees, members, two community organizations and the matching funds, Mid-Hudson Valley FCU raised $7,215.61. In January, when Haiti was hit with a devastating earthquake, credit unions from around the world--again—responded with funds and other assistance. For example, staff and volunteers from MAFCU FCU, Brookline, Mass., packed 66 boxes of sheets, pillows, and pillow cases on a Saturday in May at its Cover Haiti with Love event to benefit Haiti. The members and employees of State Employees CU, Atlanta, collected over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and multi-vitamins, to benefit Haiti. The supplies were delivered to a hospital in Haiti on March 20 to provide medical care to approximately 800 people, including children, in a local community. In an April press release, WOCCU reported that donations from credit unions, individuals and credit union groups worldwide to its Haiti relief fund had surpassed the $1 million mark. The fund, which provides immediate relief to victims of the earthquake, also is used to finance the rebuilding of Haiti's credit unions so they can assist members and support local relief efforts. Most times the causes are ongoing. Serving the financial needs of the United Nations staff, UN specialized agencies, former international civil servants and their families globally, UN FCU, New York, has a global focus as part of its mission. UN FCU recently joined the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNITE to End Violence Against Women, according to a press release from the credit union. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women supports women’s organizations and projects around the world to reduce and end such violence. UN FCU will match donations made by Dec. 31 up to $3,000. Sometimes relief comes by providing resources such as technology to help rural credit union members. WOCCU is developing a technology to provide affordable financial services to Latin American and African families who can’t get a loan or join a credit union--by providing them with cell phones through a donation program. The rural families live hours away from the nearest financial institution. Through WOCCU’s mobile wallet campaign, a $30 cell phone provides families the opportunity to start a savings account or apply for a small business loan from the palm of their hand--a day’s time and wages spared. The cell phone will serve as the members’ passbook, checkbook and online access to the credit union. Whether it’s a natural disaster or the day-to-day challenges that credit unions and the people they serve are faced with credit unions make a difference globally. (Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final part of a series of articles News Now has been featuring on credit unions and cause marketing.)
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