The Wings Employee Pandemic Fund offers up to $2,500 in grants to employees affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic.
A three-person committee approves the grants and the foundation forwards the money to payees.
CU QUICK FACTS
Wings Financial Credit Union
HQ: Apple Valley, MN
Data as of 03.31.20
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 8.9%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 21.0%
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the credit union industry and its members in myriad ways, from personal health and wellness considerations to financial strain. Credit unions were quick to pivot their branching models to adhere to state and local government guidance while introducing new technology and programs to ensure continuous service and keep members on their feet.
But a human crisis has required a human touch, and front-line works at grocery stores, financial institutions, and the like have become beacons of hope and positivity in times of uncertainty. At Wings Financial Credit Union ($5.8B, Apple Valley, MN), front-line staff are the ones who most directly take care of members on a day-to-day basis, and in the early weeks of the pandemic the credit union realized it needed to take care of them.
That’s why the credit union introduced the Wings Employee Pandemic Fund.
“When it comes to member service, we rely on our front-line employees to be there for our members,” says John Wagner, the credit union’s senior vice president of member experience and president of the Wings Financial Foundation. “We don’t want our employees to experience undue stress.”
The credit union has not furloughed employees, but it realizes some employee households have members who have been furloughed, lost jobs, or otherwise are suffering from a reduced income. Through its Wings Financial Foundation, the credit union has set up an online application for financially impacted employees to request a grant of up to $2,500 to help offset financial hardship brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic. A decisioning committee made up of three mid-level leadership employees review the requests and make the final approval decision.
Our objective is to mitigate anxiety for our employees in uncertain financial situations.
The application itself is confidential, but applicants do provide several pieces of information. For example, if an employee needs help making their next mortgage payment, they would submit a description of the need, the amount of the requested grant, the date of the incident that created the hardship, financial documents like a mortgage statement, and the payee name and address.
Anonymity is important, Wagner says, especially in matters of personal finance.
“We didn’t want people to feel self-conscious about asking for help if they need it,” he says.
Once the committee determines a request is “reasonable and appropriate,” the foundation forwards the money to the payee.
Wings hopes the assistance will help alleviate the stress of a mortgage or auto loan payment, medical expense, or unforeseen hardship. To date, a handful of employees have applied for the grant, and none have applied for the full dollar amount. Still, staff reaction has been positive. Wagner anticipates Wings will continuing the program for the foreseeable future as the financial impact from the coronavirus pandemic plays out.
“Our objective is to mitigate anxiety for our employees in uncertain financial situations,” Wagner says. “We also want to show our employees, who do so much for our members, that we care about their personal wellbeing. Because we do.”