Northwest Credit Union Foundation Charts Bright Future at Spring Planning Meeting

With its rooftop parks, colorful walls, mission to unleash human potential, and a five-story slide designed to replace the stairs, the site for this spring’s Northwest Credit Union Foundation Board meeting was anything but conventional. Yet there couldn’t have been a more appropriate place to host the conversations the Foundation’s leadership brought to the table. At JUMP–a community space designed to inspire growth and innovation in the heart of downtown Boise, Idaho–the board not only celebrated how your support has helped Northwest credit unions’ community impact grow, but also discovered new ways to align the organization’s philanthropic efforts with the credit union movement’s advocacy goals.

Following is an update on the board’s key conversations at the spring meeting, and details on the continuing evolution of the Foundation’s approach to philanthropy.

Greater Community Impact

Reflecting on the past three years, the board acknowledged success in expanding the Foundation’s funding model. As the Northwest Credit Union Foundation’s revenue has grown, the organization also has succeeded in diversifying its revenue sources. Your Fairshare contributions have steadily increased and delivered 75 percent of the Foundation’s revenue in 2016, compared to 93 percent in 2013.

This expansion in funding sources has built a solid framework for the future. In the coming year, the Foundation will use credit unions’ Fairshare contributions to attract matching dollars from outside the credit union system. The goal is to grow revenue to augment credit unions’ community impact and amplify the value of your Fairshare contributions.

Telling the Credit Union Story

The Foundation board’s conversations not only tackled growth from a revenue perspective, but also addressed how the organization can position its community impact programs to help increase participation in and excitement for the credit union movement.

Guest speaker and Idaho Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb explained how the philanthropic activities of credit unions–when shared–can be leveraged to build relationships with the public and policymakers. In fact, Buckner-Webb credits her passion for and heavy involvement in community volunteerism, not politics, and as one of the primary reasons she won her seat. “The people in the Northwest deeply care about our communities,” she explained. “Through all of my volunteerism, I developed relationships that resonated with community leaders, and that ultimately got me elected. I didn’t know I was supposed to go through the party when I ran for my seat, but I had enough support it that I was able to win.”

The takeaway from her presentation: Credit unions can leverage the great work they do in the community by sharing successful positive impact stories with legislators who share the same goals for their constituents. When legislators fully understand the value credit unions bring they become part of our collective voices to advance the credit union movement.

Linking Advocacy and Philanthropy

Enhancing economic opportunity in their communities is a primary mission for policymakers in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. Credit union ideals seamlessly align with economic policy priorities in all three states, including affordable housing, workforce development, small business growth, and financial education.

The Foundation’s priorities in philanthropy speak to these issues, falling into three major areas of focus:

  • Asset Building: financial literacy and financial capability;
  • Economic Empowerment: small business development, workforce development, and affordable housing; and
  • Cooperative Development: credit union development, credit union leader development, and co-op development.

Denise Gabel, the Foundation’s executive director, underscored that in the coming year and beyond, the Foundation has committed to implementing new initiatives and enhancing existing programs designed to tackle these concerns. The Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) program, which helps low-income students in the Northwest build financial skills and achieve a college education, is one mission-aligned Foundation initiative that’s gained momentum. Sharee Adkins, the Foundation’s AVP and managing director, has been working to connect Northwest credit unions with students in need.

Energized by these conversations, the Foundation is eager to jump in and continue to augment credit unions’ capacity to help our region’s communities thrive. You can look forward to seeing more stories about how your generous donations to the Foundation are making a difference and impacting communities in a meaningful way.

To increase your community impact, contact Sharee Adkins, the Foundation’s AVP and managing director at

Posted in Around the NW, Community Impact.