Fox Communities Credit Union wants members to think small while doing their holiday shopping.

The Appleton, Wis.-based CU used a money-saving app called “Hot Diggity Dough” to encourage members to visit 180 small businesses in the region this year on Small Business Saturday, a national event founded by American Express that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Along with the app, FCCU utilized a “Small Business Passport” to get members involved. While the appr provided coupons from participating businesses, shoppers could also receive special stamps in their passports for shopping at those stores. Passports with five or more stamps – indicating that the community member had supported at least five different Green Bay- and Appleton-area businesses that day – were entered for a chance to win prizes.

This was the fourth time the credit union has offered this program in Appleton, the second time for Green Bay and the first for DePere, the latter of which only used the app and not the passports. The initiative was the result of a partnership among the credit union and the City Of Appleton, Appleton Downtown, Inc., Appleton Northside Business Association., City of Green Bay, On Broadway, Inc., Olde Main Street, Downtown Green Bay, Inc., Military Avenue Business District and Definitely DePere.

“It was so well received that we are excited to start planning for 2018,” Heather Wessley, community relationship manager at the credit union, said in a statement, adding that partnering with the cities and various business districts “proved to be a great way to make customers aware of the multitude of small businesses” in the region.

More than 1,600 businesses nationwide take part in Small Business Saturday, 200 of which are in the region Fox Communities serves. The CU measured impact by how many passports were turned in. During the first year, 320 passports were turned in. This year, about 1,150 passports were turned in with five stamps. From those, more than 150 individual prizes were awarded across the Appleton and Green Bay areas, worth more than $3,200 and $2,000, respectively.

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