Oregon State Credit Union Turns Advocacy into a Win for The Kids


When it comes to raising money to elect credit union champions to the U.S. House and Senate, Corvallis-based Oregon State Credit Union has set the gold standard. The credit union has won national acclaim for its innovative program that matches employees’ contributions to the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) with generous donations to the movement’s “charity of choice” – Credit Unions for Kids.

Since 2012, Oregon State’s CULAC match has resulted in $131,000 for Credit Unions for Kids. Add CO-OP Financial Services’ Miracle Match grants, and that number soars to $176,000.  That’s a big win for “The Kids.” The funds stayed with hospitals in the region, with PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center receiving $52,800, and OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital receiving $123,200.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Mike Corwin, AVP, Public Relations and Business Development.  He noted the enthusiasm for CULAC and the matching contributions “starts with leadership at the top, with our CEO Rick Hein. It has really worked and resonates from the leadership to the tellers on the front line.”

The credit union’s annual 11-week campaign, culminating in July with CULAC Month, added a new feature in 2017. In addition to their other donation opportunities, $5 raffle tickets were sold, with eight winners getting a personal tour of OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, a ride on the hospital’s tram, which offers sweeping, panoramic views of the Portland metro-area, and concluding with lunch in the city. That specific raffle raised $3,200 alone, and Saturday, Feb. 10, was the big day.

The Oregon State CU team was treated to a personalized tour, during which they saw their contributions in action – in wings of the hospital named for Credit Unions for Kids, in family comfort areas, and in the Red Flyer Wagons used to transport young patients from their hospital rooms to medical appointments.

Sarah Larson, Director of Development at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation, said credit union contributions have been a fabric in the hospital’s ability to provide world-class patient care, family support, and medical staffing.

“There is a not a part of OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital that has not been impacted by the amazing commitment and generosity of Credit Unions for Kids,” Larson said. “For more than 30 years, credit unions across Oregon and southwest Washington have been extraordinary supporters and champions to help bring the best care and new hope to children throughout our region.”

Since Credit Unions for Kids was founded in the Northwest in 1986, Larson noted, credit unions have contributed $18 million to OHSU Doernbecher.

For Anne Pettingill, an Executive Administrator at Oregon State CU, the custom tour brought home the tangible difference the CULAC matching contributions program is making.

“It’s pretty amazing being an employee who is making a donation, just to see the scope of what we’re able to do, and it’s incredible,” said Pettingill. “You think about what the credit union stands for, how we are always there for our members, and how we are able to give back.”

“This is another fantastic example of how credit unions approach the political process differently than many other industries,” said Samantha Beeler, AVP, Advocacy, Northwest Credit Union Association. “Oregon State Credit Union’s CULAC program wins for CULAC and for children’s hospitals.”

Editor’s note: If you want to start a CULAC and Charities of Choice program at your credit union or simply learn more about CULAC, you can visit the NWCUA’s CULAC resource webpage. You can also reach out to Samantha Beeler at sbeeler@nwcua.org to get additional information or request a CULAC presentation for your credit union.

Posted in Advocacy News.