Credit Unions and Corporate Social Responsibility

Volunteers walking together

What’s Wrong with Credit Unions and CSR

During one of our credit union brand development projects, the topic of corporate social responsibility arose, and I got push back from the CEO.
“It seems like every organization says they are giving back to some charitable cause,” he said. “I don’t see the value in it. We’ve tried that before. We don’t get anything out of it. Sure, it may do some good for the community, but people are not loyal to us because of it.”
I have to admit, he’s partially right.
According to Aflac’s National Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, 66% of people say companies that pursue responsibility efforts do it only for good public relations. Another 49% believe a company is bragging when it talks about its responsibility initiatives.

Should we just pack it all in? Not exactly.

The credit union CEO’s pessimism mirrors that of the general public. When it comes to corporate social responsibly – even branding, advertising and marketing – we are all skeptics. When we interact with a brand, there’s always the question of, “Why should we care?”
ThirdLove, a producer of bras and underwear, has a 60-day return policy. All gently worn bras that are returned are donated to their bra donation parties. To date, the company has donated more than $20 million in bras to people in need.
Since Warby Parker was founded, they have operated its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” eyeglasses program. For every pair of Warby Parker glasses purchased, a pair of glasses is distributed to someone in need. According to the company, there are 2.5 billion people around the world who need glasses, but don’t have access to them.

Do we purchase from these companies because they give back?

Well… no. We buy from them because they give us what we want.
ThirdLove was the first to trademark half cup sizes. In the eyeglasses world, 80% of glasses and sunglasses are controlled by a single company (Luxottica), and Warby Parker disrupted the eyewear monopoly. Plus, they gave us trendy designs and eyewear made of renewable, plant-based materials.
However, the Aflac study also revealed that most people, 61%, say companies that pursue responsibility efforts do so out of a genuine desire to help others, noting, “Responsibility is not a coincidence, but something deliberately pursued, and the absence of that deliberate effort undermines the responsivity, if any, that is seen to exist.”
Let’s go back to my doubting credit union CEO. It’s not that corporate social responsibility is a waste of time or effort, but it must be executed with authenticity and meaning. Yes, ThirdLove and Warby Parker give us what we want, but their competitive advantage is what we believe as their customers. We like the way their brands make us feel, and their CSR initiatives make us believe we are contributing to good in the world.
Think about this: I’m willing to bet your credit union participated with, or considered partnering on, a Credit Union for Kids campaign. After all, credit unions are the fifth largest sponsor of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I can show you credit unions that raised just a few dollars for the cause to those who made a profound deep impact in their community.

Why is there such a big difference?

There’s a difference between doing something out of obligation vs. passion.
A brand becomes a symbol of trust. CSR can help strengthen confidence in your brand, but just like your marketing and advertising efforts, it must be done with authenticity. When selecting a corporate social responsibility initiative, consider how your employees feel, not just what your members may feel. Be unified and true in your mission. When you build a common ground, you enable loyalty, connection and love of your credit union.

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche


Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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