WASHINGTON-The Federal Election Commission has issued a ruling recently at the behest of CUNA and others permitting credit unions to match member political action committee donations to a charity of their choice. For every dollar a credit union member contributes to the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, the member’s credit union can match in a donation to groups like Children’s Miracle Network or the Red Cross. According to CUNA Political Director Karen Kincer, credit unions offering the matching funds may limit the number of charities for contribution for administrative purposes. The ruling only applies to CUNA-affiliated credit unions offering a donation to the chosen charity. “It is a common practice more in the corporate world. It just seemed like something that if we could apply it in the credit union world.it seemed like a good match,” Kincer said. CUNA, CULAC, and the North Carolina Local Government Employees Federal Credit Union of Raleigh, N.C. sought the opinion last December. The ruling came as an “advisory opinion” in early February. Many corporations and trade associations with individual members (like doctors or lawyers) offer similar programs in their PAC fundraising efforts. However, the charitable donation is not tax-deductible to the credit union member. Kincer explained that it is clear under the law that corporations and trade associations were permitted to be active in this type of political fundraising, but the ruling was necessary because it was not clear if CUNA’s credit union members could provide the matching funds. “This decision, for the first time, makes it clear credit union members of CUNA may provide matching charitable donations,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica said. “Given the credit union community’s strong affinity for charitable giving, this program extends to credit unions a clear channel for significantly boosting charitable causes, while at the same time increasing the level of contributions to CULAC.” North Carolina Local Government Employees Federal Credit Union raised the issue with CUNA last year. Kincer said they came to CUNA looking for advice on these programs’ legality for credit unions, which spawned the request for a ruling from the FEC. She said that other CUNA-member credit unions have also expressed an interest in these programs, which have been highly successful in the corporate world. CULAC does not do this sort of fundraising at the national level, Kincer pointed out, adding that just about all of the PAC’s fundraising is at the state and local levels. [email protected]

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