Borrowing a leaf from reality TV shows, a New York credit union, the $150 million Palisades FCU, is saving on sponsorship fees and getting high marks from civic leaders by introducing text voting to support community events.
The latest example came last weekend at a two-day ice sculpting competition at Rockland County's fifth annual Knickerbocker Ice Festival held at a local park.
The event, in which Palisades received branding on banners and signs, was attended by more than 25,000 area residents who also took part in a range of fun family activities including history tours and igloo building.
The CU's IT department set up a text voting system, a first for the festival, patterned after such shows as "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars," said Anthony Pili, vice president-marketing/sales for Palisades.
"This year attendees were able to text in their vote for their favorite ice sculpture in addition to using a traditional paper-based ballot system used in past years," he explained.
In participating in the popular festival, Palisades, he said, had sought exposure but sponsor fees were costly and "out of our budget."
The head of the credit union's IT department and Pili "sat down to think of a way we could add value to the event that we could propose in lieu of paying a sponsorship fee," Pili said.
Voting in the sculpting competition had always been done by hand, which tied up volunteer resources, did not provide the sponsor with a running tally and presented a problem regarding duplicate votes.
"It was also less engaging for the attendees since they could only vote from one location in the large park," Pili said.
The network administrator was able to use a prepaid cell phone with unlimited text messaging, a laptop and proprietary software to receive, count and remove duplicate votes instantly, Pili added.
"When we proposed the idea to the organization in charge of the event, they were delighted and excited to incorporate such cutting edge technology," he said.