The Power of Partners

Credit unions team up with local movers and shakers to improve communities and the bottom line.


Partnerships define the cooperative movement, but sometimes fresh ideas don't come easy. How does one solve a case of collaborator’s block? Look to your peers ... Brainstorm ... Collaborate.

Here are three examples of cooperatives that formed successful partnerships with businesses, charities, and schools. The team approach benefitted not only the community but also the credit unions' balance sheets.

  • Investing in the community generates results on multiple levels. The Appleton Post Crescent recently named Capital Credit Union ($393M, Kimberly, WI) Small Business of the Year because of its charitable work and financial performance. The credit union grew deposits by almost $30 million in 2010 and reduced delinquency and charge-offs. Could community involvement and financial health be linked? Absolutely.
  • Embracing opportunities to help young people makes sense. Redwood Credit Union ($1.7B, Santa Rosa, CA) offered its fourth financial literacy class for high school students last week. The credit union sponsors the class in partnership with local school officials. Why is this a good idea? Because the credit union increases its face time with the elusive younger generation. Plus, Redwood engenders goodwill with the parents of the kids it educates. Maybe Mom and Dad need a new PFI?
  • Sports can even the playing field. The Summit Federal Credit Union ($624.4M, Rochester, NY) recently co-sponsored a spring scrimmage for Syracuse University’s football team. The event re-emphasized Summit's relationship with the university and forged connections with other area businesses. There are few reasons not to pursue opportunities like this.

Lending partnerships with local businesses are valuable, too. Members can keep financing at their credit union, merchants have a reliable lender for their customers, and credit unions get exposure to new members as well as a boost to the bottom line.

How partnerships materialize is less important than whether they materialize. Take stock of existing or possible relationships and look for ways to maximize or foster them.