"Credit Unions Impact Saginaw" Provides Blueprint for Community Organizations
In 2013, following Mid-Michigan Chapter of Credit Unions’ annual meeting, an initiative to improve the community started when Saginaw’s credit union leadership, prompted by Team One Credit Union CEO Gerald Hutto, voiced a desire to make a positive impact on the community.
Saginaw’s CU leaders took a look in the mirror and decided they could do something about it, together.
Impact Saginaw is a collaboration among 16 of Saginaw County’s credit unions* diligently working to enrich their community and its residents through raising awareness and funds for local events and organizations. Through combined resources and efforts, Impact Saginaw helps support and showcase the positive events and organizations of Saginaw.
As a result of community care and true collaboration, Impact Saginaw has provided the blueprint for other communities to start their own initiative.
Why start a community organization?
Catholic Federal Credit Union Vice President of Community Relations and an Impact Saginaw founder Bridget Looby-Staffileno said her greatest inspiration for helping to create the organization was simply loving the city. She voiced her dissatisfaction of the city’s bad reputation, “You hear so many negative things about our city. We wanted to do something to offset that, to show people what a cool and safe place it actually is. We have so many treasures that more people need to discover!”
The other main motivation for starting Impact Saginaw was an attempt to make, as the name suggests, a bigger impact. Although each of the credit unions involved are constantly out in the community making Saginaw a better place, there is always room to do more, Looby-Staffileno said.
Specifically, Looby-Staffileno wants to make the city a great place for the younger generations, “Impact Saginaw has always focused on providing children with a positive experience and memory they might otherwise not have.”
In order to enrich the Mid-Michigan area, Impact Saginaw leaders knew they would have to rely on the area's most active participants, such as other nonprofits and small businesses. Once the organization’s founders had a clear goal in mind, they reached out to a network of Saginaw nonprofits, community leaders and the media to help spread the word.
The credit union representatives used their relationships in the community to make all the pieces come together.
“The response was phenomenal,” Looby-Staffileno said.
With talented designers from the community on board, the group discussed their brand’s identity and branding, drawing inspiration from each other. “The important thing about us is our dedication to being truly collaborative. Every step of the way, from branding forward, we wanted to differentiate the organization from any individual credit union.”
All 16 of the credit union representatives involved understood that the organization would be an initiative to help Saginaw, not an opportunity to promote their credit unions.
“We left our egos at the door. We were all very interested in realizing a true collaboration. That attitude is what has made this work from the first step forward...What other industry does that? Credit unions are so unique and special.”
How can CUs make their own Impact?
Checking egos and leaving behind the advantages of each credit union is advice Looby-Staffileno emphatically stressed to other communities with ambitions to create a similar organization.
The Catholic FCU VP of Community Relations also had a few tangible pieces of advice sure to help prospective founders. “Commit to a three-year term, know what charities and events you want to support and make sure to have a budget in place.”
Lastly, she advised anyone looking to start a community-minded organization to enjoy the hard work.
“It’s worth it. Nothing is better than being able to make a positive change in the community and to also see the faces of the families and volunteers. I’m so proud to work with some of the best people of my community.”
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*Catholic Federal Credit Union, First Area Credit Union, Lake Michigan Credit Union, United Financial Credit Union, Copoco Community Credit Union, Frankenmuth Credit Union, Saginaw County Employee's Credit Union, Saginaw County Employee's Credit Union, Family First Credit Union, Generations Family Federal Credit Union, Saginaw Medical Federal Credit Union, Wanigas Credit Union, Financial Plus Credit Union, Lake Huron Credit Union, Team One Credit Union and Wildfire Credit Union