It’s All Good: Employee Engagement and Corporate Stewardship

Success can be achieved by creating a win-win situation, but what is success without a sense of responsibility to those around you? Corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, corporate stewardship, and business ethics are common terms used to describe a company’s duty to serve the community beyond its products and services. No matter which term your credit union adopts, it must have a philanthropic strategy to thrive in today’s business landscape.

The Community First campaign is a unique, hands-on initiative designed to increase monetary contributions, while promoting education and awareness of issues that affect everyone within our membership field. Choosing three charities to raise funds for may not fit your credit union’s model; however, you have a duty to cooperate with at least one. Fifty thousand dollars may not be your initial fundraising goal, but even five thousand would make a difference to some organization. This campaign seeks to take corporate responsibility to the next level by supporting other non-profit organizations and encouraging young professionals to step into leadership roles.

Employee Engagement
A fundraising campaign requires effort from all employees. The employees perform team building exercises that create a productive environment without the company bringing in an expert speaker for thousands of dollars.

The employees are often left out of the corporate giving strategy. The credit union decides how much it will give each year. The United Way is allowed to seek pledges for contributions. The employees’ contributions to the process is limited to giving – what fun is that?

Including the employees in the corporate strategy for giving has a direct effect on their pride in the work they perform and the good their institution does in the community. Fundraising campaigns provide a unique opportunity to engage and retain young professionals. It is easy to get bored in a job once you have mastered the tasks, but this strategy allows them to think outside the box and be creative.

The Business Case
Credit Unions were founded on the principle of creating a cooperative network of member-owned financial institutions committed to improving people’s lives. Cooperation with one another and the communities we serve continues to be at the heart of our existence.

Each year your budget grows and while you remain committed to keeping overhead low, your responsibility to the community requires budgetary attention. Can you imagine giving 25% more money without increasing your budget? Can you consider allowing your employees to engage in fundraising activities and volunteer during work hours to pack food for the local food bank?

America’s First did just that. We decided to include the employees in our philanthropy to bridge the gap between our presence in the community and our commitment to improving the quality of life in the areas where we do business. Building a brand goes beyond the products and services you offer, your brand should be known for how it makes people feel. The most important component is how the employees feel about their job. How you cooperate with others is directly related to attracting new members, retaining existing members, and embraces the credit union motto of “people helping people.” Members can sense when the employees are fulfilled by their work.

Why it’s All Good
The value a credit union gains by introducing its employees to philanthropic opportunities increases cooperation outside and inside of the company. America’s First has received recognition from the Birmingham Business Journal acknowledging of our commitment to corporate citizenship. The credit union has also ranked in the top 10 of the “Best Companies to Work For in Alabama”. I believe these accolades are a representation of our commitment to doing our part and developing leaders.

The cost of doing business and providing quality service can be expensive. You may not have the manpower to designate one person to focus on philanthropy, but there may be several people willing to volunteer and work on philanthropic endeavors.

Your credit union has a responsibility to embrace stewardship and have some fun! Your strategy must be more than a mission statement or financial report; it must make others feel good and leave a positive impression on the community. Institutions must put money into modern technology and improving member services in order to remain viable, we must also make substantial contributions to the communities we serve. The best way to create a future leader is to engage them and push them to try new things.


Jimese Harkley