If You Disappeared Tomorrow, Would Your Community Re-Create You?

The institutions highlighted this week on CreditUnions.com work the cooperative network to turn the role of financial services provider into integral community partner.

Wright-Patt Credit Union CEO Doug Fecher has a question he poses to his staff: If the credit union disappeared tomorrow, would our members re-create us? If they did, what would we look like?

It's through this lens that Wright-Patt determines whether it is offering the products and services and participating in the activities that its members find most important. This framework also helps the credit union determine whether it is living the cooperative values and operating differently from the bank down the street.

The credit unions profiled this week on CreditUnion.com are doing all sorts of things to differentiate themselves in the market. And it's no coincidence that two of the seven cooperative principles — cooperation among cooperatives and concern for community — play a major role in their strategies.

International travel is the perfect medicine for curing cultural tunnel vision, and Amplify FCU is applying that type of experience to the professional and personal lives of its employees. In early 2014, senior training specialist Terry McCoy and marketing specialist Taylor Richardson participated in a two-week international employee exchange with Sicredi — a Brazilian conglomerate of more than 100 credit unions operating under the same name. This week, they share a few best practices they brought back.

“These organizations focus heavily on working with other cooperatives, not only in financial services but also in industries like agriculture, grocery stores, and public utilities,” McCoy says.

That concept resonates with the credit unions profiled in 5 Ways To Work With Non-FI Cooperatives. Partnerships with food cooperatives are a sweet spot for Park View FCU, Self-Help, ASI FCU, Summit, and SPIRE, who share how their strategies — which range from operations to marketing— make for a profitable investment in not only the community but also the credit union.

When the recession hit in 2009, Michigan-based Community Financial Credit Union had to make decisions about its community giving. Many organizations put the freeze on community outreach during that time, but Community Financial did not. Now on the other side, the credit union has a clear understanding of its priorities and has earned a reputation as a constructive corporate citizen. In this Q&A, CEO Bill Lawton and marketing manager Sarah Cousineau talk about their approach to serving the communities the credit union has called home for more than 60 years. Read more today.

Industrial Credit Union of Whatcom County has been making its mark in the community for two decades through its Feed the Need food drive. In the credit union’s home city of Bellingham, WA, one in five families rely on the assistance of area food banks. With the help of benefactors like ICU, whose annual event collects 300,000 pounds of food, local families have a place to turn to when they suffer from food insecurity.

The credit union has sponsored Feed the Need since 1994 and this week offers five tips on how to generate excitement year after year. Spoiler alert: You won’t find any gimmicks, just solid advice on how to make your efforts count.

And for a snapshot on what cooperatives are doing on the global stage, check out the CreditUnions.com Graphic Of The Week, The Cooperative Impact On The World Economy.

Happy Reading.

October 20, 2014

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