Georgia Credit Unions Impact Their Members, Their Communities & Beyond

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Georgia credit unions are committed to helping their members afford their lives. But the impact of credit unions reaches far beyond the branch walls. As not-for-profit institutions, credit unions contribute their resources to the greater good of their communities. They live out the values of working together to accomplish more, and the difference they make is felt across Georgia every day.

Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) surveyed the state's credit unions to compile the Helping People Afford Life® (HPAL) 2014 Outreach Report. Eighty-three percent of responding credit unions partnered with community-based non-profits last year, raising more than $1.68 million for charitable initiatives around the state. This includes $400,000 raised for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

"We are a service organization and our employees always enjoy giving back to our community," said Debbie Smith, President and CEO of Georgia United Credit Union. Her credit union donates a day of service on a federal holiday each year. In 2013 the Georgia United team assembled and donated 8,000 meal and hygiene kits for the Gateway Center homeless service organization, doubling the total from the previous year.

The GCUA survey showed employees of responding credit unions donated an average of 385 hours in support of local causes, and 88 percent make direct monetary donations to charitable programs.

"Credit unions stand side-by-side with working people in the middle class. This means digging in right alongside them trying to make the lives of their families and their neighbors better," said Mike Mercer, President and CEO of GCUA. "Credit unions exist to serve members and help them afford the lives they aspire to in the communities they care about."

Sometimes that means serving the global community. Platinum Federal Credit Union raised more than $10,000 from members and staff and the credit union contributed an additional $5,000 to the Aga Khan Foundation to support projects in Third World countries in Africa and Asia.

"There are so many people in the world who are lacking the basic necessities that we take for granted," said CEO Kabir Laiwalla. "We are a collaborative, cooperative organization. This gives us an opportunity to put the values of our credit union to work in areas of the world that can really benefit from our support."

As not-for-profit member-owned institutions, credit unions drive dividends back to members as opposed to stockholders. Sometimes outreach activities are closer to home, designed to assist members in reaching their life goals. More than half of credit unions surveyed offer or plan to offer programs designed specifically to help low-wealth members save. Eighty-eight percent offer used vehicle loans to low-wealth members and 68 percent have credit builder programs. Almost 90 percent held educational events last year, with 13,747 Georgia consumers attending.

Additional findings from the report on Georgia credit unions' outreach activities include:

  • 75% have bi-lingual and/or multicultural staff
  • 75% offer free checking accounts
  • 68% have financial literacy programs for adults
  • 84% have financial education programs for teens
  • 82% have financial education programs for youth

Click here to for the full HPAL 2014 Outreach Report. More information about Georgia credit unions is available at or on