Credit Unions for Kids Charts Sustainable Course

Credit Unions for Kids has a rich history in the Northwest. The organization, which provides funding to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, was founded in Oregon, and the region has been critical to creating and prolonging the relationship between credit unions and children’s hospitals.

But after more than 25 years, Credit Unions for Kids is taking steps to expand its scope and effectiveness, looking to engage a new  credit union professionals as ambassadors on localized boards to ensure its sustainability as an organization and its continued growth.

Twenty-five years and countless millions in donations would be enough for some organizations to hang their hat on, time to lean back and celebrate. But if recent media attention is any indicator, Credit Unions for Kids has only just begun to have an impact.

A recent article in the Portland Business Journal outlined the organization’s inner-workings, representing one of the first times that the Credit Unions for Kids story reached a wide audience outside the credit union movement. Its first two paragraphs succinctly summed up…

“In 1986, a group of seven credit unions from Oregon and southwest Washington began a grass-roots effort to raise funds for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital,” wrote Jack E. Norton. “The program, called Credit Unions for Kids, caught on. Since 1986, 60-plus regional credit unions have raised more than $8 million for Doernbecher. And credit unions nationwide have adopted the program, raising funds for children’s hospitals across the country.”

Pretty simple. But growing from an extremely local group of credit union professionals donating hundreds or thousands of dollars to a local children’s hospital into a national organization that has credit unions contributing millions was no simple feat. And making sure the organization continues its upward trajectory is an even taller task.

Mandy Jones, president and CEO of Oregon Community Credit Union, is co-chair of the Credit Union for Kids advisory board. She explained that the board is working to engage credit unions on the local level, finding credit union ambassadors to work with advisory boards in various communities throughout Oregon and Washington.

“What we’re trying to do is create credit union ambassadors,” Jones said, “and have those ambassadors be regionalized around each hospital.”

These advisory boards will then work directly with local children’s hospitals, giving a hometown face to the effort and allowing Credit Union for Kids to have deeper penetration into both the credit union movement and the region’s communities.

“Each advisory board would work with the hospital and work with them in setting goals and trying to figure out fundraising and how they would reach those goals,” Jones said. “So, for example, in the past, it’s been the [Northwest Credit Union] Association and the co-chairs setting the goals for each hospital. But you’re not getting the buy-in of the credit unions around that hospital.”

Jones said that she hopes continuing to work locally will not only help fundraising efforts, but that it will also galvanize the program for the long run.

“We’ve got to build that passion behind this,” she said, “so that it’s absolutely sustainable. The more people you get involved at that local area, they feel it, and they see it, and they get to touch it. That’s one of my personal goals. I want to see it sustained. I want to see it grow. I want to see it flourish. It’s time.”


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Posted in Compliance News.