Michigan's Community Choice Credit Union believes it has come up with the ideal method of aiding local charities: devote a whole weekend to volunteer work during which employees have a choice of joining a walkathon, helping landscape homes for the disadvantaged or packing boxes at a food shelter.
It's called the "Give Big Weekend" and is now in its second year. The project has reaped community praise, with the CU counting 1,220 hours of service given in a two-day period by employees and members.
The $435 million CU with headquarters in Farmington Hills said also during Oct. 2-3 it raised $4,910 in pledges and donations directed to four charities: the American Diabetes Association, Gleaners Food Bank, the Michigan Humane Society and Freedom Work Opportunities.
"We're particularly pleased that we had 80% of our employees-120 out of 140-who signed up to do the weekend volunteer work bringing along their families to sites around metro Detroit," said Karen Myers, marketing communications specialist.
Apart from the walks and the landscaping, some employees took part in picking up trash in a Detroit park or donated other services to help the groups.
While building employee pride, the Give Big program also carves out a special community niche in demonstrating the CU is "a socially responsible financial advocate," explained Robert Bava, president/CEO.
"We have recognized the path to building that aspect of our brand begins internally," said Bava. "By allocating resources for philanthropy, we make it a part of our business strategy and organizational culture."
Employees, he continued, "then carry that message with them, not only when participating in the Give Big Weekend but also when they are providing service to our members and developing business leads."
All told, there were 250 givers, each pledging five hours of service, which was double the hours from 2009, said the CU.
"The idea of Give Big permeates everything we do at the credit union," said Bava. "Give Big grows every day and we are excited to share this movement with our communities and be a much needed positive force in southeast Michigan."
Bava said Give Big also proves that CUs "are truly reflective of the American spirit and are connected to our members in ways that banks could only dream of."
The industry's philanthropy, he went on, also proves "that we are innately different from banks and that such giving is in our DNA and not a byproduct of governmental legislation."
Apart from the CU advocacy, one other element of Give Big is a $5 donation to a southeast Michigan charity for every new member that opened a checking account Sept. 1-Oct. 8.
The benefactor charity was chosen by CU members and the local community. The choices included Royal Family Kid's Camp, Lincoln Behavioral Services, The Michigan Humane Society, and The Community Choice Foundation. Nearly 200 people already cast their vote with the winning charity to be announced late last week.