Phases of ordinary community investment to extraordinary growth

The credit union movement is host to many active concepts.  Maybe you’ve heard our mantra, “people helping people?” As an industry, we breathe life back into the lungs of society. The beauty of what I’ve come to connect with is found beyond the obvious financial monuments the public generally recognizes us for. It is there where the pulse of my project connects societal and economical needs to action items. These action items then become strategic in nature. But the fun part is how the Department of Interior Federal Credit Union, (DOIFCU) has made it our responsibility to create innovative solutions to meet those needs, and set sails to satisfy those strategic measures. What’s interesting is how in doing so, produces growth to meet the goals for our organization, community, and sponsor.  [Enlightening phase - where beliefs, behaviors, and results agree]

This month I celebrate my 3rd anniversary with the Credit Union. Thinking back then, just two months later this program was born and not without reservations from our board. Originally, this idea was thought to not be a priority item, that the assumed expectation of volunteers wasn’t guaranteed, and the timeframe to expect ROI was unidentified. Yet, after some creative thinking [Risky phase - a pilot run with personal friends only], two months later the philanthropic committee was born. As a new Business Development Director and new to credit unions, I thought my biggest problem was not calling members, clients and vice versa. However, with time it was clear it would take an unconventional approach to create the bridge to reach my goals in this new environment. The original vision was drawn to provide a solution for three objectives, build employee morale, deepen relationship with our sponsor, and create a system to produce residual SEG opportunity. Then, our target was an estimated 15,000 employees, 50,000 volunteers, and their families in MD|DC|VA for the Department of Interior (DOI). [Establishing phase – creation of strategic plan with growth opportunity]

Now fast forward to today. Once where board members were skeptical, now they offer their personal influence to connect government/presidential elected officials to leverage professional relationship to attend philanthropic events. Our target market is still the DOI, however 70,000 employees, 290,000 volunteers, 240,000 operating locations, and their family members nationwide. [Duplicating phase – Making changes to invest in a greater market, same focus] We’ve also included an aggressive SEG growth strategy to include other organizations similar in mission and vision of the DOI. Our timeline of events can be viewed here, to see the continued growth pattern in events, relating to our targeted market. Below are the measureable items this program has directly contributed to. I’ve also including supplemental programs that were created, and awards achieved stemming from this programs original efforts. [Production phase- It takes time]

Community Estimates

  • 214 volunteers
  • 62 events
  • 965 hours

SEG Development

  • 50% increase in SEG growth
  • Increased relationship with our sponsor
  • Creation of Financial literacy Program

Internal culture shift ratios estimates

  • Creation of in house volunteer incentive program
  • Increase positivity in employee culture – 4% increase in employee retention
  • Creation of in house recognition program, “bucket filling” – 70% of employees participated by voluntarily highlighting or thanking another employee


  • MD|DC CUA – Social Responsibility
  • Credit Union Magazine - Rock Star
  • Credit Union times – 40 and Under Trailblazer
  • CUNA Diamond award – Ongoing project
  • Interior President and CEO – Professional of the year

The future presents the opportunity to take this initiative to the next level as we project the next 5-10 years. The credit union industry can benefit from this program but also the process to establish one that fits their credit union. A benefit to this program is it bears a low to no overhead cost, and it’s replicable. Currently this program has taken us to seven states in the US, all presenting the ability for membership, and SEG development. At this point the vision is automated, qualifying for action as we ebb and flow with the needs of the plan. It relates directly to our strategic plan per the board to increase by $50m in assets over the next 3-5 years. (Executive phase – goals relevant to produce infrastructure additions)

To me, the drive it takes to commit to ideas that may influence institutional change doesn’t come from the success of any given program. Rather, it comes from the opportunity to fail at each new innovation, yet still remain focused to try again. I am grateful for this opportunity, and look forward the potential next steps to come.

Mario Mejia