BECU Asks Members, Public to Vote for Their Favorite Cause

As Washington’s largest credit union, BECU has long supported individuals and nonprofits working to promote affordable housing, financial literacy, education, and other causes. In 2013, the credit union decided to expand and enrich its giving program by asking its more than 865,000 members which organizations and individuals in the Puget Sound region they think deserve support.

In no time, BECU’s “People Helping People Awards” became a social media hit. In 2014, BECU received more than 500 nominations for $5,000 cash awards. Plus one BECU member would receive a $15,000 award and recognition as the “Member Volunteer of the Year.”

From the hundreds of nominations received, the credit union culled a group of finalists and asked members (as well as everyone in the community) to help select the winners via BECU’s website, Facebook, and other social media sites.

BECU was overwhelmed by the response. Nearly 13,000 members engaged in what became a community-wide conversation.

“We were overwhelmed with the response we received from our membership,” says Sara Moorehead, BECU Vice President of Co-Op Affairs. “It solidifies for us that our members are truly living out the credit union philosophy of People Helping People.”

Seventeen nonprofits split $100,000 in cash awarded at an event held at The Museum of Flight. Winners from 2013 and 2014 were invited to celebrate at the event, giving all the organizations a chance to learn more about each other.

For example, City Fruit, an organization that harvests fruit from residential trees, connected with another winner, the White Center Food Bank during the 2014 event.

Julia Sheridan, co-founder of Outreach and Resource Services for Women Veterans (OARS), was thrilled to receive the $15,000 award.

“It’s important that we have ways to reach our veterans that are relaxed, interesting, and which also build networks between participants,” Sheridan says. “The BECU award will give OARS ways to assist women veterans through an art therapy class series, workshops for living with trauma, an appreciation dinner for our veterans, to get magazines and books for our hospitalized women veterans, to have fun movie nights, to assist building veterans’ resumes, and to grow our website’s awareness nationwide and to build our brand by increasing awareness and membership.”

The credit unions of Oregon and Washington not only improve their members’ lives, they are foundational to the entire Northwest economy. Learn more here.

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