Loan Promo Tied To Charities Drives Volume To Calif. CU

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Michael Duffy, president and CEO of Financial Center Credit Union, got to play Santa Claus on Christmas Eve-handing out checks to four charities in this inland port city in the San Joaquin Valley on Dec. 24.

"I didn't wear a Santa suit, but perhaps I should have," he said.

Financial Center raised more than $22,000 by setting aside $2.50 for each $1,000 in loans it wrote from Nov. 15 to Dec. 24. The CU's members designated which of four charities would receive the donation generated by their loans. If a member did not make a choice, the money was split evenly among the four.

"The program was a great success," Duffy told The Credit Union Journal. "Our members loved it, and it is part of giving back to our community."

The four charities that benefited from the program were St. Mary's Interfaith Dining Room, Catholic Charities of the Stockton Diocese, United Way of San Joaquin County, and Gemini, which assists residents in the economically depressed South Stockton area.

About one-fifth of Financial Center's membership base is the Stockton Catholic Diocese. Duffy said the local Catholic CU was facing a shutdown a few years ago and merged with Financial Center.

St. Mary's Interfaith Dining Room received the largest share-about $8,000-and the other three received roughly equal amounts.

"This year was a tough economy for all of us, and you can imagine how tough it was for charities," said Duffy. "When demands for their services goes up, funding for charities goes down. Everyone involved in this program was pleased to give back to these well-deserving organizations."

According to Duffy, Financial Center, which has 38,000 members and $220 million in assets, donated nearly $100,000 to various charities this year.

"It can and should be part of our mission. We're the 'bankers with a heart,' so if credit unions don't do it, who will?"

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