When members of Fort Community Credit Union make their holiday shopping list this season, they will have extra incentive to spend money in local stores.
The $183 million cooperative in Fort Atkinson, Wis., is participating for the second year in Buzz Points, a social marketing and debit card rewards program designed to boost local economies and support small businesses, the credit union said.
To launch Buzz Points, the credit union teamed up with fisoc Inc. of Austin, Texas, which partnered with CUNA Strategic Services last year to pilot the BuzzBanking program for credit unions.
Members who use their debit card to shop at participating local merchants can earn double, triple or more reward points, which can be redeemed for local gift cards, cash cards and donations to local non-profits.
As part of the program, Fort Community is among 20 credit unions and community banks gearing up for Buzz Points’ Shop Local Saturday on Nov. 30, said Jay Valanju, CEO of Buzz Points.
The Shop Local Saturday campaign engages members through social media, local media, the web, and participating credit unions and businesses also received printed promotional materials to display, Valanju said.
This year’s Buzz Points Shop Local Saturday will include a total of 7,800 merchants in 15 states, he said.
“We are empowering community financial institutions and local businesses to compete with mega banks and big-box retailers, while stretching consumer dollars and keeping more dollars local,” Valanju said.
“Everybody wins when you shop local. Various studies have indicated that only $13 to $33 remains in the community for every $100 spent at national retailers where more than $50 to $60 stays in the local economy if $100 is spent with local merchants,” he said.
At Fort Community, the program has received a warm welcome by members and local merchants, the credit union said.
Businesses do not have to be FCCU commercial account holders to participate, said Danielle Frawley, vice president of marketing and communications for FCCU.
"The Shop Local Saturday campaign is helping us to continue to build community awareness of the importance of buying local and its effects on our local economy,” Frawley said. “The Buzz Points program helps keep ‘buy local’ top of mind for our members and our community at large, which in turn will lead to more sustainable communities in the future."