“At the end of the day, our mission is to create a stronger Maryland,” said Becky Smith, chief strategy and marketing officer at SECU. “We want to promote financial well-being and good health. And kindness connects us all.” To help spread kindness throughout the community, SECU launched the Kindness Campaign, with the goal of 70,000 acts of kindness performed during the month of October.
“The goal of the campaign is to empower people to perform acts of kindness,” Smith continued. “We want to have a ripple effect and encourage more people to get involved, to be kinder and show more empathy as they go through their day.”
The Kindness Campaign began last year as an activity for employees, Smith explained. Initially, they planned a town hall and day of volunteering on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, when banks and credit unions are closed, but needed to change plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We asked ourselves how we could make an impact in the community.” Smith said. They sent kindness kits to each employee, with items such as postcards, flower seeds, sidewalk chalk and positivity rocks, and encouraged them to perform an act of kindness – sending a positive note to a friend or co-worker, planting flowers, decorating outside their home or making a charitable donation – with the goal of 7,000 acts.
Engaging the Community
“This year, we decided to take it to the community,” Smith said. With 2021 being their 70th anniversary year, they wanted to engage the entire community, including their 250,000 members, as well as their employees and partners. Kindness kits are available at each of SECU’s 24 financial centers and an online version is available for download. Community members can submit their act of kindness through SECU’s website and watch the counter on the website update in real time. Prizes of $1000 each will be awarded to 16 randomly selected participants.
To drive engagement among their employees, SECU sent each employee a larger version of the kit, with more supplies and a gift card as well as a standard kit they could pass on to a friend or family member. The company held a virtual town hall on October 11 – Indigenous Peoples’ Day – to kick off the employee Kindness Campaign. Employees went out into the community that afternoon to perform acts of kindness, such as delivering meals to hospital workers. Smith proudly reports that participation was 100%. Each SECU branch has partnered with a different community non-profit, such as a shelter or food bank, and branch employees are continuing to gather donations through the month.
In addition to engaging individuals in the larger community, SECU established partnerships with Kennedy Krieger Institute and Special Olympics Maryland. For every kindness kit distributed, SECU will donate $5 to each organization. In turn, both organizations have committed to 10,000 acts of kindness as part of the campaign. “The response from our partners has been amazing,” Smith said, noting that the Special Olympics athletes have enjoyed the chance to participate and perform acts of kindness.
Launching and Tracking the Campaign
To publicize the campaign to members and the wider community, SECU used a combination of email, social media, website, print and digital ads, and outreach to local media outlets. Leading up to the campaign’s launch, they visited local media with pastries and kindness kits “to spread kindness and pique their interest,” said Smith. Their media sponsor, WBAL, created a public service announcement with their anchors to encourage everyone to take part.
So far, Smith reports that the response has been very positive. As of mid-October, they were on track to reach their goal. In addition to the number of acts of kindness performed, they will also measure the number of impressions on the campaign’s dedicated web pages as well as general brand awareness. Many submissions have included photos or videos, and SECU plans to produce a wrap-up reel that will “hopefully inspire others to get involved in spreading kindness,” said Smith. Submissions have ranged from delivering pizza to friends and neighbors, placing coupons for future purchasers to use next to items on store shelves, donating blood and leaving kindness rocks around the neighborhood.
Smith affirmed that SECU is planning to make the Kindness Campaign an annual month-long event. “The campaign reflects SECU’s brand,” she emphasized. “We want to help create healthy communities and be a catalyst for community development. What could be more important than kindness?”
For more information on SECU’s Kindness Campaign and how to get involved, visit https://secukindness.org/
Deborah Shapiro is a writer for AMA Baltimore. She is the Corporate Communications and PR Specialist at Danfoss. You can follow her on LinkedIn.