Reaching More With Fewer Resources: Guest Opinion
United Teletech Financial Federal Credit Union has traditionally placed great emphasis on the role of supporting community good works as another way to extend our brand of “Helping People Prosper.” It provides the credit union with a means of spreading the word about the good we do and uniting others in the cause to help improve our communities.
As a small institution, the reality is that we do not have with the budgets often found at large public companies. Yet, we seek to have similar impact on the lives of those we help. This reality has caused us to be creative in our approach to providing charitable support. For example, when we seek out community partners, we have found that smaller community nonprofits give us greater access to help those in need. Further, the good we do seems to have greater impact than by supporting only the more recognizable national charities. Our dollars goes further at these smaller charities.
The realty of being a small donor also impacts how we give. For many years, we have provided what might be considered traditional support to our partner nonprofits. This would include the conducting of member-wide food drives, providing employee volunteers to work or staff events and financial contributions.
Within the past few years, we shifted our approach from a traditional support model to one that sought to create greater impact with our community charities. The Million Dollar Community Challenge was created in 2011 to help us accomplish this. The challenge is a three-month campaign that aims to save our communities $1 million in interest on loans they may have with other institutions.
We partner with the selected charities to publicize the event within their donor groups, our members and the community. Once the goal is met, UTF donates a percentage of the total interest savings to participating charities. Participating members get to vote on the charity they want to receive a portion of their interest savings. We have met or exceeded our goal for each of the three years we have run the challenge. Charities now seek us out to partner with us to help their donors and improve their fundraising.
As a credit union that serves the Jersey Shore, last year we saw many of our communities and members impacted by Super Storm Sandy. There was a great need for the services our community nonprofits offer and the national spotlight helped significantly to fill that initial need. We also saw that nonprofits proved to be more important than ever in ensuring our residents’ most basic needs were being met. This unprecedented access to services meant local nonprofits needed more funding than ever in order to continue to help the community. Additionally, the relationships we created with our nonprofit partners enabled us to see that donor fatigue might be a real issue once the public tired of news about the disaster.
So, following the old adage, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,’ we decided to shift our efforts from providing simply just direct support to charities to teaching them how to improve their fundraising. UTF partnered with fundraising experts FundingLogic to provide a free, one-day workshop designed to showcase how non-profits can maximize fundraising efforts.
The FundingLogic workshop taught charities to rethink fundraising and provided a new framework and fundraising methodology to get internal teams and board members aligned with the mission of the organization and the core message of fundraising efforts.
With the blessing of our board, the support of our membership, the work of our team and the willingness of our charities to do something different, this small financial institution has been able to magnify the impact of our limited resources to improve the good done in our communities.
Leo Ardine is president/CEO of United Teletech Financial Federal Credit Union.
He can be reached at 732-530-8100, ext. 3001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.