NW CUs Out in Force to Support Summer Events

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As summer reluctantly arrives in the Northwest, credit unions in Oregon and Washington are breaking out their shorts, flip-flops, and check books to support local events and raising awareness about the bank alternative.

Credit union awareness has long been a concern for a sector that defines what it does using the name of its main competitor: banking. However, sponsoring community events is a great way to improve the public’s recognition of individual brands as well as the system in general.

“Credit unions have always been involved in their communities,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) CEO John Annaloro. “Now they are increasingly sponsoring community events which are covered by the media, as well as attracting large crowds who may not understand there is a banking alternative.”

“Supporting local events is one way that credit unions can show what really makes them unique and attract potential members,” he added.

Some credit unions are supporting flagship events, all the while remaining close to their roots. Seattle’s July 4 fireworks show, The Family 4th at Lake Union, was in danger of being canceled last year after Chase pulled its sponsorship. Washington Mutual, which was forced into merging with JP Morgan in 2008, had previously sponsored the event on its own for twenty years.

So this year, Salal Credit Union, formerly Group Health Credit Union, stepped forward, along with Group Health Cooperative and others to help close a $94,000 fundraising gap.

iQ Credit Union in Vancouver, Wash., is supporting the all-day Share fundraiser, which helps area homeless people return to self-sufficiency, on July 23. The event is hosted by Vancouver’s firefighters and includes a chili cook-off, performances by firefighter pipe and drum bands from throughout the Northwest, and Portland saxophonist Patrick Lamb.

Other credit unions are matching their growth with niche events. Northwest Community Credit Union (NWCCU) in Bend, Ore., is the title sponsor for the Paddleboard Challenge on June 18. This official World Paddle Association-sanctioned stand up paddleboard event on the Deschutes River will include three competitive events: a six-mile long course, a two-mile short course, and a judged “Expression Session.” Even here, the general public will get to learn more about NWCCU as the course runs through the center of town and can be seen from parks, bridges, and the popular Old Mill District.

Also, because the 2011 Northwest Community Credit Union Bend Paddleboard Challenge will be one of the first races to count toward the WPA’s recently announced Pacific Northwest championship, many high-profile SUP athletes are expected to compete.

Matt Purvis, NWCCU’s VP of Marketing, told a local paper that it was a natural decision to support the Challenge: “We celebrate everything ‘northwest.’ The Northwest Community Credit Union Bend Paddleboard Challenge is the perfect place to meet our current and future members and support a great community event.”

Remember to check out the Association’s new Chapter webpage where credit union professionals can go to learn about their chapter, upcoming meetings, leadership, and contact information.


Questions about member outreach or the Chapter program? Contact Director of Outreach Programs Kasey Rockwell: 503.350.2217, krockwell@nwcua.org.

Posted in Events.