New Economic, Community Impact Resources Ready for NW CU’s to Share with Consumers and Policymakers

Northwest credit unions have new, data-rich tools to support their advocacy and public awareness work.

NWCUA is pleased to provide member credit unions with a suite of resources documenting credit unions’ economic and community impact.

The community data was contributed by credit unions to NWCUA’s Community Impact Reporting Tool (CIRT). The tool tallies Northwest credit unions’ collective focus on financial well-being, volunteerism, charitable contributions, and special lending to rural communities, first-time homebuyers, and other populations that not-for-profit, cooperative credit unions are uniquely positioned to serve.

The impressive economic impact report was prepared by economists at ECONorthwest, one of the region’s most respected economic firms. In addition to documenting Northwest credit unions’ 2019 economic impact, ECONorthwest measured credit unions’ extraordinary services to members and communities from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic through June 2020.

“Credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative structure enables and motivates them to put members’ needs first; people before profits,” said Troy Stang, NWCUA President and CEO. “The economic and community impact data prove how credit unions collectively generate and deliver real, tangible value to members and communities. It’s no wonder that credit unions are now the preferred financial services partners to the majority of Northwest consumers.”

Credit unions are encouraged to share the reports with their members, elected officials, and local media. To help with this work, NWCUA’s Marketing Resource Center is equipped with new infographics, social media posts, and the stories of members who have been served by Northwest credit unions.

Doing Good Things in Difficult Times. Credit Unions’ COVID-19 Services

When many industries were forced to shut down and lay off workers amid the pandemic, credit unions hired additional staff to help members, ECONorthwest found. The workforce at Idaho credit unions grew 3.2%, 1.3% in Oregon and 1.2% in Washington. Other key findings include:

  • When members needed options to skip loan payments or to have loans modified, credit unions supported them, and waived a total of nearly $14 million in fees.
  • More than 22,000 small businesses that suffered economic impacts of each state’s “stay home” orders, received a lifeline from Paycheck Protection Program loans funded by credit unions. Despite reports that large national businesses received million-dollar plus PPP loans from for-profit financial institutions, credit unions embraced the spirit of the program, helping the truly small businesses Congress intended to serve. According to ECONorthwest, the average loan amount across the region was slightly over $44,138..
  • In support of their communities at the onset of the pandemic, Northwest credit unions contributed $7.1 million to local charities and volunteered 52,000 hours of community service.

“Credit unions quickly and safely kept service flowing to members with technology, remote services and  socially distanced operations,” Stang said. “They also served thousands of members who’d lost jobs or whose income had been interrupted, by providing emergency loans and options to skip payments, and waived millions in fees. Moving forward, Northwest credit unions will use their leadership voices and exemplary services to help guide communities back to financial well-being.”

Infographic: Northwest Credit Unions’ COVID-19 Services

Economic Analysis Headlines: $11 Billion Impact and Growing Membership

In measuring Northwest credit unions’ economic contributions, ECONorthwest found credit unions in Idaho, Oregon and Washington delivered an $11 billion boost to their state’s economies in 2019. Other topline  takeaways include:

  • Strong public awareness. The majority of Northwest consumers have chosen credit unions as their financial services partners. More than 8.1 million consumers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington are members of credit unions. This reflects growth ranging from 7.7% to 12.9% since ECONorthwest’s last economic analysis of the region’s credit unions in 2018.
  • Members of Northwest credit unions received a collective $783 million in direct benefits such as lower fees, dividends, lower loan rates or other benefits enabled by credit unions’ not-for-profit structure. When members spent those benefits in local economies, the ripple effect was nearly $1.6 billion.
  • Northwest credit unions provide family wage jobs to 21,029 professionals. According to economists, those jobs support a total of more than 58,000 jobs across the region.
A Proven Community Footprint

“In addition to the ECONorthwest report, there is important data to share about credit unions’ community impact, the everyday things credit unions do to serve not only their members, but their communities,” said Christine Ruzzi, NWCUA’s AVP, Enterprise Engagement. “We are grateful to Northwest credit unions for inputting data in the Community Impact Reporting Tool. It will help prove credit unions’ value proposition in every legislative meeting, media interview, and in other opportunities credit union teams have to evangelize the Credit Union Movement.”

The data documented in NWCUA’s Community Impact Reporting Tool measures not only volunteerism and charitable contributions, but also the relevant products credit unions provided to Main Street throughout 2019. The survey finds:

  • Credit unions’ strong commitment to promoting financial well-being, with more than a quarter million Northwest consumers directly receiving financial education from a credit union.
  • Nearly $1 billion in loans that helped consumers buy their first home.
  • Nearly $3.7 billion in refinanced mortgages, allowing members to dedicate financial resources to other needs.
  • Community support by credit union employees who volunteered 180,000 hours.
  • Charitable contributions of over $27 million.

“Credit unions were founded with the people helping people mission, and Northwest credit unions are living up to it, day in and day out,” said Jennifer Wagner, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer, NWCUA. “This data will underscore the credit union story.”

Editor’s note: Visit the NWCUA Resource page to review ECONorthwest’s reports, read stories about credit unions’ services to members, and to find customizable marketing resources.

Posted in Public Awareness.