With a dedication to its members and to the spirit of family, Affinity Plus Credit Union (St. Paul, MN, $1.1B) has made giving back a major priority. Its partnerships with the Minnesota Twins baseball team leads the roster of Affinity's community sponsorships. At the time of the Twins partnership in 2002 Affinity's had 100,000 members and assets at just over $600 million. Today, the 130,000 member "Affinity" brand has become synonymous with baseball to residents of the twin cities. But the credit union doesn't stop its community involvement there. With in-school branches, local schools experience the Affinity spirit of giving back with sponsorship of collegiate teams, athletic games and division-wide tournaments.
"I feel like Affinity Plus needs to do both," says Katie Incantalupo, marketing communications manager of Affinity Plus Credit Union. "Folks travel in to see a Twins game and they see our brand. Everyone loves the games. At the same time, nothing can replace doing things in the local level."
The credit union implements a "dual marketing strategy" and takes effective efforts from the local level and applies them to their involvement during a Twins game or vice versa. From free t-shirts to tossing "Affinity" balls into the crowd, promotional efforts are never limited to one event. "Every branch has capability to utilize our Twins sponsorship to benefit the members in the each community," says Incantalupo. "Our 23 branches are active in local school teams as well."
As the only credit union in the state to give this level of involvement, Affinity gives back in many ways, most notably with tickets, player appearances and trips. Affinity also works to learn from the games to maximize the effectiveness of its sponsorships; one key way is setting up booths at the games and talking to fans directly. The credit union also makes an effort to get community input through surveys along with interaction with members at branches.
Awareness of Affinity's sponsorship has developed a healthy community pride. "Neighbors and vendor partners say 'I saw your sign at the Affinity game' or 'your logo was on Sports Center last night'," says Incantalupo. "At the end of the day, we are member owned and operated and the money we spend is theirs [members]." Yet, with successful exposure of its Twins partnership and that of local college teams, the credit union's efforts have always been to deliver member value and show Affinity's community pride.