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Credit Union Donates Cows to Food Bank


Any company can give a nonprofit a donation check, but how many of them can give a cow?

Last month, Germantown-based Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union ran a successful social media and in-branch fundraiser to raise over $7,700. Last week, the Maryland credit union used that money to buy and donate 4-H steers to the Gaithersburg-based Mana Food Center.

For it’s [Moo]ve Against Hunger initiative, Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union ran a whole new kind of giving campaign that combined in-branch donations, texting, and social fundraising. The goal was to raise enough money to buy at least two steers at auction to donate to Manna Food Center, and the credit union partnered with cause marketing leader CafeGive Social to make their goal a reality.

This is the second year that MAFCU bought steers to donate to the food center, but the first year that the credit union involved the public and used social media. Last year, the credit union raised enough money to buy and donate a 1,029 lb. steer (cost: $3,300). This year, MAFCU wanted to triple that amount by matching donations up to $5,000.

"We knew from day one that we wanted to do something out of the ordinary for Manna Food Center: something that no one has done before,” said Marc Wilensky, vice president of marketing for Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union, about the unusual campaign. “The food center is always in need of quality protein, so we decided to purchase a steer during the county fair 4-H Steer Auction."

From July 1 through July 31, MAFCU members and their families could visit their local branch and “purchase” a cow-shaped paper cut-out for one dollar, and display it with their name on the branch wall. At the same time, people could visit the credit union’s Facebook page or text “BEEF” to 55155 from anywhere to donate to the cause, and “pin” a virtual cow to the social donor board. MAFCU matched donations up to $5,000.

The social apps worked in tandem with Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union’s in-branch fundraising. In addition to raising money through its three branch locations, supporters, partners, and vendors from across the country donated online and through text. Overall, [MOO]ve Against Hunger raised $7,718 - surpassing Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union’s $5,000 fundraising goal.

"Many of our members do their banking online and don't come into branches on a regular basis,” said Willensky. “The social and texting components really helped break down the barrier of getting people involved even if they don't come into the branch or aren't yet a member. With the fundraising app, people all of the country as well as our partners could donate online, and then instantly share it with their friends and networks."

The credit union used the money to buy three steers at the county fair 4-H Livestock Auction on Aug. 15, including the largest steer of the night, weighing in at nearly 1,600 lbs. In total, Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union was able to donate over 1,800 lbs. of high quality beef to Manna Food Center -- that’s enough to feed nearly 1,200 families.

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