How to Develop Your Strategic Giving Plan

hands holding out a box labeled DONATION with a heart on it
Tony Covington Photo
VP/Business Development/TalentED

2 minutes

Thinking big about the way you make charitable donations can produce better results.

Credit unions take pride in the way they give back to their communities, and their contributions—whether financial, volunteer service hours or talent share—have long been a key part of their philosophy of “people helping people.” The importance of this was underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Credit unions do get benefits from being so generous. In this tough hiring and retention market, employees and candidates commonly show preference for employers that demonstrate good citizenship and invest in community concerns. Plus, credit unions that participate in their communities get great word-of-mouth advertising.

While credit unions are all about people, they are also all about good business. They know what it means to get a return on investment. But not all of them have thought about how to be more strategic with their charitable giving. Having a plan for your charitable contributions can help your giving have more impact on the people you want to help—and on the health of your business.

Here are some ideas you can use to build your plan.

1. Align Your Philanthropy With Your Brand

Credit unions have always had special marketing niches because they formed to serve a particular group of people who shared a common bond. Even credit unions that have now expanded to community and other kinds of broader charters both remember their field of membership roots and deeply understand the communities they now serve. So, what matters to your members? Look to make a difference in that.

2. Engage Your Employees

Include in your plan the idea that employees will contribute to your giving strategy over time. What charities mean the most to them? How can they be leaders in implementing your strategy? Also, look for ways to align your giving with your credit union’s values.

3. Be Creative

Spend some time brainstorming how to take your strategic giving to the next level. Are there some new ways you could contribute? For example, instead of just donating money, could your staff members support your chosen nonprofit through a talent share? Might you be able to invest in the future of your favorite charity by sponsoring talent development for its leaders?

4. Leverage Financial Tools

Many credit unions use a benefits pre-funding program to offset the cost of employee benefits. Perhaps less familiar are charitable donation accounts, that provide credit unions with special investment capabilities while also supporting their donations to charity.

5. Regularly Evaluate Your Efforts

Each year, consider the effectiveness of your strategic giving plan. When you initially write it, establish what success might look like—and what metrics you’ll use to refine your plan.  cues icon 

Tony Covington is VP/business development of TalentED, powered by CUES, which works with nonprofits to develop the leadership potential of their executive teams, board members and staff. Reach him at

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