For our most recent FI Spotlight, we touched base with James Boyd, president and chief executive officer of Abilene Teachers Federal Credit Union. ATFCU has been participating in the March for Babies with the March of Dimes since 2011, and this year they’ve taken their involvement to the next level. We spoke with James to learn more.
Q: How long has Abilene Teachers FCU been involved in the March of Dimes? What brought on your involvement?
We became involved in 2011 through a fortunate circumstance. Beginning in 2010, our strategic plan has included the goal of becoming more actively involved in our community. We look for opportunities that will engage with our predominantly young staff. While March of Dimes certainly fills that requirement, prior to 2011 we hadn’t heard from them. That year a member of their revenue committee made contact. We sponsored at the $500 level and had the chance to learn more about the organization.
In 2012, I was asked to sit on the March of Dimes revenue committee. What I learned in those meetings convinced me that we should get behind the organization in a major way. With only two months before the annual March for Babies, the credit union formed a fundraising committee that set a goal of $20,000; Though we didn’t know it at the time, that’s a hugely ambitious goal for any team, much less one that’s new. We not only made our target, but we exceeded it, donating a total of $22,700 – the second largest gift in the region.
This year, March of Dimes asked me to chair the 2013 campaign. This is the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes and ATFCU has set an enormous fundraising goal of $75,000. Should we achieve it, this would be the largest single gift ever donated to the regional organization. We’re using raffles, change collection buckets, an enormous garage sale and even a 5K run to work towards the total. However, the most innovative project is donating a penny for every debit card transaction made during the calendar year of 2013 – something the National March of Dimes organization has told us they are unaware of any sponsor trying before.
Q: What spurred your interest in this campaign?
It is no exaggeration to state that the work of March of Dimes truly touches the life of every baby born in America. In their short history they have eliminated polio, developed the PKU test for babies and significantly reduced the incidence of birth defects.
Our staff is young – it seems like we’re having a baby shower every other week. Obviously, we hope that all our credit union babies are born healthy and full term. March of Dimes is an effective, proven organization that has made enormous public health advances in 75 years. We support their work.
Q: Since ATFCU will donate a penny for every debit card transaction made during 2013, are you announcing simultaneous campaigns to increase debit usage?
We have announced (and continue to reinforce) the penny campaign to our members. Beyond that, we are not planning anything specific to drive increased usage. The credit union switched to instant issue debit cards about 5 years ago and to PIN based debit in 2012. Those two developments have already significantly raised usage.
Q: How are you encouraging the community to participate in the March for Babies and the Monster Mash 5k Dash?
We’re using electronic billboards and contacts in the Abilene Runners Club. The billboards are amazing – we can change the signs as often as we want without incurring any extra cost. We send the new ad electronically, and it’s live on the board within minutes.
Additionally, we are fortunate to have a high market penetration level. The population of Abilene is 115,000, and ATFCU has 37,000 members. By simply promoting March of Dimes to our membership, we have covered nearly a third of the local citizens.
Q: Are you using social media to increase participation in the fundraising and build awareness? If so, what channels do you utilize and which ones do you see more interaction on?
The March for Babies is scheduled for May 11. Now that we are only 2 months out, we will begin using our Facebook page for this purpose. That will begin the week of March 18, and messages will be updated weekly. Currently, we don’t have a Twitter presence.
Q: Are members primarily using digital services over in-branch services? Are you looking to increase engagement in one way or another?
We have a robust digital footprint and high member usage. However, Abilene is located in a semi-rural area of Texas – more cattle than people would be an apt description. As in most rural communities, Abilene has a higher than average number of senior citizens who prefer in-branch visits. We do our best to meet our members where they are and give them the tools they need to manage their financial lives.
We plan to remain a community leader in digital services. Our iPad app went live a few weeks ago, with Droid and Kindle apps scheduled for the third quarter of 2013. During this year we also plan to add remote deposit capture and online account opening. We know we’re behind our urban cousins in those areas, but electronic adaption is a little slower here. Besides, this gives us the chance to “go to school” on their experience.
For more information on the March for Babies campaign, you can read Abilene Teachers FCU Quarterly Newsletter here.
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