Supporting global good with a little cooperative competition
In an ever-evolving financial system, credit unions have long stood as beacons of accessibility and opportunity. And yet, across the world, 1.4 billion people wake up every day without access to financial services.
The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions (WFCU) harnesses the cooperative generosity of the global credit union system to address that gap. WFCU’s newly appointed Philanthropy Manager, Marcey Ciaccio, leads the organization’s fundraising work.
A fresh start in finance
Ciaccio took a circuitous route to credit unions, spending much of her career in healthcare before joining WFCU midway through 2023.
“I'm happy to say that I've always used a credit union. I've always been a member, but I really didn't have any idea what a difference credit unions make not only in their own communities but across the globe,” Ciaccio said. “So my induction has been very eye-opening. It's vast. It's so impressive the work that's being done to help strengthen financial wellbeing around the world, I had no idea.
“I talk about it now to friends and family, because I just am so proud of the fact that I was chosen for this role and that I now get to help make a difference in people's lives - people that I most likely will never meet.”
And it’s true, the likelihood Marcey or any of her peers will ever meet the people they’re bringing financial services to is slim: WFCU has a footprint in 118 countries (the U.N. recognizes 195 countries globally).
However, its core operations are in the USA. So why are American credit unions, serving American members, supporting work in faraway lands?
“Making a difference with someone in your own backyard is somewhat easy,” Ciaccio said. “Making a difference for someone in the next state or someone who speaks the same language as you is a little bit more difficult but still, sometimes we can feel some connection. Making a difference to someone who we most likely will never meet, in a country we may never visit? It takes a lot of effort to make those types of contributions.
“The credit unions that contribute to our work, in the U.S. and beyond, do so because they are generous, they have faith in the mission and know that the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions really can make a difference in someone's life at a granular level.”
Members Helping Members: Having fun with philanthropy
Ciaccio was yet to meet the entire WFCU team when she was tasked with putting the much-touted people helping people philosophy to the test.
In honor of the 75th annual International Credit Union Day, WFCU sought to raise $750,000 to support its work.
“The idea was pretty straightforward,” she said. “We wanted to excite and engage credit union employees and advocates and help everyone see their part in a global cooperative movement. That’s what Members Helping Members is about.”
Members Helping Members is a grass-roots fundraising campaign, challenging individuals and organizations to a little cooperative competition: To see who can raise the most money to support global good.
“We knew it was an ambitious goal, perhaps overly ambitious, but I’ve had some incredible calls with credit union CEOs and League representatives who have really bought into the concept. An Oklahoman CEO who is grinning at the thought of raising more money for WFCU than a Texan colleague. It’s bringing a little fun to philanthropy, but it’s also the people helping people philosophy in action.”
Strategic investment in three core areas
While Members Helping Members is a discrete fundraising campaign, all money raised will go directly to WFCU’s existing strategic initiatives of digitization, resiliency and environmental impact.
Ciaccio explains that while there are unique programs being delivered within each investment pillar, the three areas are strategically linked.
“Improving digitization is about access, fundamentally. It’s about enabling credit unions in some of the most challenging situations to provide credit and solutions to new members. When they do, they’re enhancing the resiliency of the organization—they’re building a more robust financial institution, capable of attracting, developing and retaining innovative talent. And we’re supporting that talent—particularly at the very top-levels—to identify ways their credit unions can develop more environmentally sustainable operations.”
Anyone can become a WFCU champion. How much can you give to support global good?