Introducing Nusenda Foundation's Financial Education Innovator Award

Nominate an Innovator


Keep up-to-date with the Nusenda Foundation, its partnerships, and the communities it serves.

Nusenda Foundation Wins 2018 Council on Foundations’ Wilmer Shields Rich Excellence in Communications Award

Sep 24, 2018

Wilmer Shields Rich Award NR


National organization recognizes multifaceted Community Rewards® communication and community awareness campaign

The Council on Foundations, a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations based in Arlington, Va., today announced it will present the Nusenda Foundation with its 2018 Wilmer Shields Rich Award for Excellence in Communications in November in Washington, D.C. 

The award is given to an organization that has creatively and effectively used strategic communications to further its mission and goals, providing models of excellence to the field of philanthropy. The Nusenda Foundation received the honor for its 2017 Community Rewards® communication and community awareness campaign.

“The Wilmer Shields Rich Award recognizes the importance of grantmakers using creative communications to drive the philanthropic sector forward,” said Gene Cochrane, interim president and CEO of the Council on Foundations.  “Nusenda’s innovative approach has shown results for the foundation and the scores of nonprofits in New Mexico who benefit from the generosity of its members.”

“We thank the Council on Foundations and the selection committee for this tremendous honor," said Nusenda Foundation Executive Director Robin Brulé. "Through this multi-pronged communications strategy, we were able to celebrate our Community Rewards partners and their work in thoughtfully cultivating programs that authentically serve our state's unique and diverse population. We also let our members know where their contributions are directed, and were able to educate the communities we serve about the collaborative work we're doing in their hometowns.”

With every signature-based transaction made by a Nusenda member with a Nusenda Visa debit card, Nusenda contributes a cash reward via Community Rewards to a cause important to them in their community. In 2016 and 2017, the Nusenda Foundation distributed nearly $1 million to 80 Community Rewards beneficiaries statewide who are positively impacting the communities they serve in five areas: Education, Healthcare, the Arts, Environment and Wildlife, and Community Services and Support. In total, the foundation had more than $2.5 million in community and financial impact, and in-kind support, during those two years. 

The nomination, submitted by the Albuquerque Community Foundation, explained that rather than a traditional mailer or another common method to inform members and the community about Nusenda’s Community Rewards program Nusenda chose to focus on nonprofit organization beneficiaries themselves – conducting interviews and allowing them to tell their stories in their own words for more meaningful impact. Those interviews and on-location photoshoots, were developed into a multi-media communication campaign using various channels including social media, podcasts, videos, radio spots, billboards, bus wraps, and digital and print ads. The campaign encouraged members and the public at-large to enroll in the program, joining thousands of others contributing to making New Mexico a better place to live.

Execution of the communication plan had a tangible impact on the effort to grow the Community Rewards program. In November 2016, about 91,000 Nusenda Credit Union members were enrolled; by the end of 2017, more than 103,000 members participated. The campaign also generated more than 2.2 million impressions through Nusenda Credit Union and the Nusenda Foundation’s website and social media channels, in addition to radio, print, and bus advertisement impressions. This significant increase will create more funding for nonprofit organizations, allowing the Community Rewards program to make a more significant impact in communities statewide.

Participating nonprofits also noted a benefit from the exposure, noting a substantial increase in community interest, and a noticeable upsurge in phone calls, emails, and other inquiries from people interested in their causes.

“Including the Institute of American Indian Arts in the Community Rewards program helped raise public visibility of our students and our programs,” said Eileen Berry, IAIA associate director of advancement. “We can’t thank Nusenda enough for placing the IAIA community at the forefront of its campaign. Community partnerships like these help us foster lifelong learning.”

Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) President Katharine Winograd said, “Nusenda has been a longtime supporter of CNM and education in New Mexico. The Community Rewards campaign helped increase awareness in our community about the ways we support our students through scholarships and the ways we support our local economy through entrepreneurial programs. We’re honored to be a partner with such a community-minded organization and we look forward to continuing our work with Nusenda to help improve the quality of life in our community.” 

"To us, giving means more than writing a check,”Brulé added. “The power of collaboration and partnerships are one of the ways we fulfill our mission at Nusenda, which is to do well, so we can do good. We thank our Community Rewards partners for allowing us to share their stories - they continue to inspire us with their resiliency, passion, and determination to drive innovation and create opportunity. We also want to say thank you to the Albuquerque Community Foundation for their award submission. Most importantly, thank you to our Nusenda Credit Union members - every day, they partner with us to help the organizations and the causes that matter to them most."

Past honorees include the Citi Foundation, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The award will be presented to the Nusenda Foundation on Nov. 28, 2018 at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.  For more information on the Community Rewards program, visit and




About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.

Back to press room

Learn more about our community impact in our 2016 - 2017 Report to the Community.

Report to the Community