Mid Oregon Lands Dora Maxwell Award for ‘Credit Unions Working Together’

By the time a group of central Oregon credit union professionals picked up their first-place Dora Maxwell Award for an outstanding social responsibility project, they were already widely admired for the unconventional route they took to the dance: they partnered with five other credit unions.

Credit Unions Working Together” was born after a challenge from Mid Oregon Federal Credit Union CEO Bill Anderson to his vice president of marketing, Kyle Frick. The challenge was to take the years-long successful Great Drake Park Duck Race to the next level.

In Frick’s mind, there was one thing left to do: sell the other local credit unions on the idea of raising funds as a team. In the end, it wasn’t a difficult sell. OnPoint Community, SELCO, Northwest Community and Southern Oregon Federal credit unions were immediately on board, and their well-organized, attention-getting effort was profiled in an earlier edition of Anthem.

Credit unions are known for putting people ahead of profits and for a collaborative, member-driven structure, but even for credit unions, this level of selfless cooperation is almost hard to believe.

But the central Oregon credit unions found the secret sauce, and as an entity were a top fundraiser for the 2012 event. The Great Drake Park Duck Race netted nearly $76,000 for seven charities serving youth in the Bend area. The collaborative approach worked for them and can work in your community as well, Frick believes.

“Find common ground,” Frick said. “Make sure you align with your credit union objectives.” He went on to suggest that when you have objectives you know your credit union can’t accomplish alone, it could be a good time to open the door and invite other credit unions to lend a hand.

Frick offered additional tips for credit unions considering cooperative community events:

  • Invest in community partnerships that bring in the media;
  • Be flexible, leave your ego at the door (and always work to get the most for your brand!); and
  • Put yourself in a leadership position. Be part of the solution and provide relevant experience.

The Great Drake Park Duck Race has raised more than $1 million in its 23 years, but supporting tenured community events can be challenging, especially in a tight economy. People may have the “I donated to that thing enough times” mentality. But through the cooperation of “Credit Unions Working Together,” more tickets were sold this year than in 2011.

And if other institutions, organizations and industries follow the lead of this latest example of credit union cooperation, the Great Drake Park Duck Race will only continue to grow.

Seven Northwest credit unions were honored this year with state-level awards from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and each winner is being profiled in Anthem in recognition of their community-oriented programs and philosophies. Read more about award-winning initiatives at Linn-Co Federal Credit Union, Valley Credit Union, Kitsap Credit Union and Columbia Credit Union, and stay tuned to Anthem in the coming weeks for details on the remaining honorees.

Questions? Contact the NWCUA Awards Program: 800.995.9064, ext. 106; awards@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, Awards, CUNA, Events, Federal.