MONTPELIER, Vt. (3/31/14)--Leveraging the communication value of both new-age social media and the traditional annual meeting, VSECU has made its membership part of the credit union's charitable contribution decision-making process.
VSECU's member-giving program, We Care 2, began in 2011 as a CUNA Diamond Award-winning social media experiment.
The Montpelier, Vt.-based $618 million-asset credit union's Contributions Committee staff allotted $5,000 to the VSECU staff and asked employees to decide where the money should be donated. With assistance from the marketing department, staff reached out through the credit union's Facebook page and Twitter account asking members to make recommendations and help decide where the funds should go. In one month, the credit union's Facebook following grew by 639 people and accumulated more than 32,300 post views for the We Care 2 program, with no paid advertising.
The VSECU board of directors expanded the program over the next two years to engage the membership in the voting process and increased the amount of donation funds to $23,000. This year, VSECU members determined the recipients by voting for the top two of five finalist organizations selected by the Contributions Committee. More than 7,000 members cast votes to direct the $23,000 in charitable donations as part of the annual meeting election.
"Although the committee vetted the five finalists, it was meaningful that our membership had the final vote," said Kate Paine, VSECU Contributions Committee chair. "Our membership has always embraced the Vermont mentality of helping one another. This program is a great way for them to express that conviction."
VSECU received 49 applications from charities around the state of Vermont. Representatives from the final five charities attended VSECU's annual meeting March 11 to answer questions about the services they provide. VSECU presented a check for $10,000 to each of the two winners and the three runners-up were each presented with a $1,000 donation.