May 14th, 2009

Pay It Forward: A Growing Phenomenon


Who could forget the amazing Pay It Forward event held at Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union’s downtown headquarters in October of ’08? We asked Seattleites, “What if we gave you $10? What would you do for someone else?” We videotaped people’s answers (the videos are here) and handed out ten dollar bills. The response was overwhelming and the Pay-It-Forward spirit spread like wildfire!

People who could not attend the event wrote in to tell us what they would to do for someone else. Many more were inspired to do nice things without any compensation or recognition. Best of all, several credit unions around the country and even in Canada told us they would like to replicate the event. We were thrilled when Summit Credit Union of Madison Wisconsin told us that they were taking the event to a new level by holding a Pay It Forward at each of their twenty branches over three months. As you can imagine, the stories and ideas coming in are very inspiring!

Alexis Endicott of Summit Credit Union sent us this update:

  “We’ve heard some great stories from people—with the economic times the way they are, people have been able to think about where or who they’d give it to almost immediately.

…One of the most inspiring stories came from a member who is a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. She had her fourth grade students learn about the Pay it Forward contest. They made their own video, and [used the money] to buy a radio for a nursing home. (Here’s the video) Summit made an additional donation to the children to purchase much-needed English books.

We’ve also heard stories from Honduras, Mexico City, Germany, Spain…it’s amazing how quickly it spread among our membership.”

As of this writing, Summit CU has already given away $6,380 and the event will continue through May 14th. On June 15th, the public will be able to vote for their favorite idea, and the winner will receive $500 and Summit will donate another $500 to a United Way charity of the winner’s choice.

Other credit unions and non-profit organizations are showing interest in the power of Paying It Forward. We’re excited to see what will happen next. Thanks again to all of our friends and members who made the first event such a success. Please visit to learn more about the next chapter in this growing national movement.

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