New Program Seeks To Ignite Collaboration In Hoosier State

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INDIANAPOLIS-A new program from "ignite" and the Indiana CU League aims to improve communication and collaboration among credit unions in the Hoosier State.

"Commitment to Change" (www.cucommitment.org) will officially be launched at the league's convention in October. The site is already live, however, and serves as a way for Indiana CUs to share their community outreach work and best practices. (Ignite is the name of an initiative among Indiana CUs to spark collaboration and idea development at as little cost as possible.)

Becky Summers, a member of the Commitment to Change workgroup and SVP at South Bend's Teachers CU, noted that most credit unions share their good outreach with their boards and memberships, but the information is seldom aggregated and shared with other CUs, along with regulators, legislators and the general public.

As a result, the top of the Web site features a turquoise bar highlighting both the amount of money and number of hours that Indiana CUs have contributed to their communities so far this year.

"Commitment to Change" is also meant to help credit unions lobby their legislators on important matters, and workgroup member Nikki Healy of Fire Police City County FCU in Fort Wayne pointed out that it can be set to default to a particular congressional district, with social media tools available to help users get in touch with the appropriate legislator.

Chad Kiser, a member of the workgroup and an employee with Centra CU in Columbus, Ind., explained that the goal for the site isn't to raise any particular amount of money, but to increase collaboration and participation among credit unions. "We weren't going to set any goals for anybody," he said, "That wasn't ever part of what we talked about. All credit unions in Indiana are different ... so it's more just about spreading and sharing stories, because all credit unions do these kinds of things every day."

The site itself was created by Indianapolis-based web design firm Trabian, and "one of the great things about the design of it is that it really is turn-key," said Kay Neidlinger, VP communications at the Indiana CU League. "Credit unions can put up a story and a couple of pictures probably inside of five minutes."

She added that the site is designed to be maintained by its users, though Trabian will host the site and can enhance or upgrade it as needed.

May Be Available To Other States

Neidlinger added that the site's organizers believe Indiana is the first state to attempt this kind of aggregator, and said that the league "would entertain the idea" of selling the site to other state leagues that wanted to replicate the idea.

Creation of the site was costly, especially for an initiative that has no built-in financial return. The Indiana CU Foundation committed $5,000 to the project, and 16 credit unions statewide have committed a total of more than $4,000 to get the project up and running.

But Foundation Executive Director Joe Guilfoy explained that the group was never looking for it to generate income.

Rather, "we see this as being beneficial to Indiana credit unions as a whole, in being able to get the message out about all the good things they're doing." He added that as the project moves forward, the Foundation "may later look at accepting contributions" to cover any additional development costs associated with running the site.

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