by Shawn Marie Brummer, Communications Specialist
Last week, I had the privilege of attending the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) Winter Meetings in Charlotte, SC. For those who may not know, the AACUL is the national association for credit union leagues/associations throughout the United States. (Yes, it’s an association for associations!)
The AACUL also organizes regular meetings and events for foundation folks through a support system accurately dubbed, “The State Credit Union Foundation Network,” or as they prefer, to call themselves, “SCUF.” With direction from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), this network helps foundation representatives to collaborate, coordinate on national campaigns, and offers a way to share ideas and questions.
For the past year, I have been attending the monthly virtual SCUF meetings and providing updates to our own Dakota Credit Union Foundation Board of Directors, but the meeting in Charlotte was the first time I have met these national peers face-to-face. With more than 25 foundation staff from across the country in attendance, spanning from Washington, DC to California, the event certainly provided a large-scale perspective of the important work that credit union foundations do.
Six speakers made presentations to our group, including GiGi Hyland, NCUF Director; Chad Helminak, NCUF Chief Impact Officer; Christie Kimbell, Chief Product Officer from Filene; Gerry Singleton, VP System Relations for CUNA Mutual Group; Sarah Snell Cooke from Cooke Consulting Solutions; and speech coach and public relations expert Sally T. McKay. All offered excellent information and advice.
However, the most important take-away I retained came from our open dialogue session, when someone posed the question: “If your foundation went away tomorrow, would it matter?”
This question made me pause. Would it matter? Would the work that our Dakota Credit Union Foundation Board does throughout the year – attending meetings, planning sessions, volunteering at fundraising events, taking time to review meeting notes and financial statements, weighing the pros and cons of each grant request – if this went away, would anyone notice? Would anyone care?
There is no doubt that on the national scale, our foundation is small is comparison. We will never be at the level of say, the Carolinas’ Foundation, which holds nearly $5M in assets. Yet in our little corner of the world, right here in the Dakotas, I feel confident that our foundation is indeed making a difference.
Let’s consider the contributions our foundation made just over the past year. In 2022, Dakota Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals received $6,000 in donations. Do you know someone who received care at one of our local facilities? This donation undoubtedly helped. The foundation also provided $4,000 in grants for financial education platforms, allowing several of our Dakota credit unions to offer the Zogo app to their members, thus supporting financial well-being. The foundation also helped multiple credit unions to send staff through CUNA Financial Counseling Certification (FiCEP), so they can professionally help members who may be struggling financially, in addition to providing grants for youth financial education events in Sioux Falls and Fargo.
It is impossible to measure the ripple-effect these contributions have made. But I hope that everyone reading this today will consider the greater impact we make when we work together to support these endowments. Every time you make a contribution to our foundation, you make a contribution to the financial well-being of our Dakota communities, making our region a healthier, happier place to live. Now, doesn’t that feel good?
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