Interest Can Be Donated To Local Non-Profits

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MaPS Credit Union has introduced a checking product designed to let members generate "community interest"-which, at the end of each quarter, will be converted into a cash donation to four non-profit organizations in two nearby counties.

The program, which started July 1, is similar to a standard interest-bearing checking account, except the 35 basis points of "interest" never touches the account. This is done for tax purposes, explained Leilani Slama, MaPS CU's director of business development.

The checking account is free of monthly fees. It carries no minimum balance requirement, though members must have an average daily balance of $750 in order to generate the dividend income that is donated to the groups.

"At the end of each quarter, we translate that into interest," said Slama. "We combine it with all the others who designated a particular non-profit and cut one check."

The four beneficiaries of the community interest are: Habitat For Humanity, the Boys and Girls Club of Salem, the Salem YWCA, and the Monmouth/Independence YMCA. The first three are in Marion County, while the latter is in Polk County (the credit union's name is an abbreviation for Marion and Polk Schools)

According to Slama, the four non-profit organizations were chosen by a committee comprised of members and staff.

"We tried to find organizations who fit with our field of membership-which is primarily educators, though we do have some SEGs," she said. "These organizations covered the gamut of what we wanted to do. They've been around a long time and have a good track record."

Each non-profit is guaranteed a minimum donation of $100. Slama said MaPS will stick with those four organizations for at least the first quarter or two before considering adding more beneficiaries. "We want to make sure the contribution they receive is substantial, so we don't want too many choices."

MaPS has been promoting the community interest program through several channels, including statement stuffers and a special mention in the July member newsletter. In addition, each of the four non-profits has referral cards, which are handed out to employees, volunteers and supporters. Members who use the referral cards to open a community interest checking account earn an additional $5 for their non-profit designee.

Slama said the CU already has received a "stack" of more than 150 designation forms just one month into the program. In some cases, the member has an account and wishes to designate a non-profit, or, for others, the designations represent new accounts.

"Our members are very community-minded, so I imagine there will be many more of these flooding in when they get wind of this," she said.

On June 16, MaPS wrapped up a two-year donation program that gave 1% of members' Visa purchases to local schools. Over the course of the program, the CU donated more than $133,000 to 100 public and private schools.

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