February 16, 2012
The Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) board and leadership met for three intensive days of brainstorming, planning and strategizing last week as it begins to lay out its priorities and rebrand itself after the recent merger of the Washington and Oregon Credit Union Foundations.
The week’s slate kicked off Monday morning when the NWCUF Branding and Marketing Committee was joined by NWCUF staff and Earlene Fantz, president and CEO of American Lake Credit Union in Tacoma, Wash., and the chair of the NWCUF board, for a meeting with Weber Marketing, the firm chosen to help lead the rebranding process.
“Weber considers this ‘Phase One’ of their overall branding project,” said Foundation Development Associate Josalyn Alston. “They wanted us to crystallize our vision for the Foundation as we move forward, and they are helping us use that vision to drive our next steps.”
In addition to establishing the framework for the Foundation’s priorities and goals, it also helped show how closely each board member’s individual goals for the Foundation were aligned.
“The Marketing and Branding Committee meeting with Weber Marketing helped all in attendance think in a very large way,” Fantz said. “While the term ‘out of the box’ is sometimes overused, Mark Weber truly did help us think in ways that we had not previously thought and helped us believe in our ability to make anything happen that we set as a priority. Even with the room wallpapered in flip-chart pages with our brainstorming thoughts, Mark was able to help us rank and see for ourselves where all of our thoughts landed. This, too, helped us see how much each board member thought along similar lines.
The meeting was held at Weber Marketing’s headquarters in Seattle and also included a field trip of sorts to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center for a private tour.
Fantz said that the tour of the Gates Foundation “seemed to show us all the importance of several key points: The effectiveness of having one key message for our Foundation and to include that message in every communication disseminated on behalf of the NW Credit Union Foundation, and the importance of consistently including our Foundation recipients and their success stories in our communications and marketing materials.”
“The whole day received rave reviews from those who attended,” Alston added.
Tuesday marked the first day of the Foundation’s planning session, which was facilitated by Patricia Sterner, a former CUNA vice president and executive director at the National Credit Union Foundation who now owns JFB & Associates. Sterner helped the board start to outline a specific mission for the Foundation and began the discussion to determine exactly what impact the board would like to make for both the credit union movement and the Northwest community.
Wednesdays meetings continued the progress toward a mission and intended impact for the Foundation, and discussions also began with regard to a “signature project,” which will be researched by NWCUF staff in the coming months.
“Overall, the meetings were excellent,” said RoxAnne Kruger, senior vice president of the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA). “Everyone came ready to work together in finding a common goal and mission for the new Foundation, and we made significant progress toward our goal of strengthening and growing the Foundation while maintaining the rich histories and traditions that helped bring us where are today.”
And the work is far from over, as plans are already in place for frequent Executive Committee meetings, expanded internal communications and quarterly board meetings, in addition to the continued rebranding and planning processes.
But the clear tone in the wake of last week’s hard work was one of gratitude and optimism.
“Staff can’t be recognized enough for all they do to bring success to our Northwest Credit Union Foundation,” Fantz said. “While it is true that we are a working board, we owe RoxAnne and Josalyn a great deal of credit for keeping everyone focused and moving forward. They handle a lot of behind-the-scenes work and handle it with the utmost in excellence, professionalism and talent.
“I’d also like to thank all of the credit unions in the Northwest who support our Northwest Credit Union Foundation both through their fair-share contributions and CIF (Community Investment Funds) investments. The support this year is astonishing and gratifying. We interpret the increased support as a signal that our credit unions believe in our foundation and the benefits we return to our credit union community.”
Questions? Contact Foundation Development Associate Josalyn Alston: 206.340.4814, firstname.lastname@example.org.