Partnerships with community organizations, local schools, or other credit unions can have a far-reaching impact.
A panel of four credit union leaders shared stories of collaborative relationships with other organizations and how those partnerships allowed the credit union to develop employees, improve benefits, impact the community, and strengthen the credit union during the 2022 CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Conference in Orlando.
“If you can have this be part of your onboarding as examples of what you’re doing, it’s a good opportunity,” says Kent Streuling, senior vice president of human resources at America First Credit Union in Ogden, Utah. “When you’re out in the community, that’s what it’s all about: People helping people.”
Some of the collaborations the panel discussed include:
Leadership training/development. Credit unions in Minnesota joined forces to create the Minnesota Trailblazers Executive Readiness Training program, a year-long professional development program for emerging mid-level managers, says Casper.
The group meets once a month, either in person or via Zoom, and coursework covers topics including leadership skills, credit union financials, credit union operations, strategic planning, and growth. Courses are taught by experts in the field and credit union leaders.
“We want to keep this age group in our system and be able to grow as a movement,” Casper says. “This project is the epitome of collaborating as a state across the board.”
Association health plans. The rising cost of healthcare is one of the top challenges small credit unions face. In response, the Minnesota Credit Union Network created an association health plan through which credit unions in Minnesota can purchase and offer health benefits and ancillary products to employees, says Tacheny.
Participating credit unions can offer better benefits at lower premiums and administration costs to employees.
Currently, 18 credit unions participate, providing coverage for 450 employees and 900 family members, Tacheny says.
Community engagement programs. Community involvement provides multiple benefits, including strengthening credit unions’ ideology, improving the lives of people in the community, instilling pride in credit union members, and attracting and retaining talent, McHugh says.
One of the ways Royal is involved in the community is through its Correctional Facility Financial Education program, where staff go to county jails and state prisons in Wisconsin and teach financial education—budgeting, how to use credit, and money mindset—to inmates.
The program has grown from one county jail in 2015 to six facilities today, McHugh says. Royal received a grant to conduct research and write a white paper about the program.
“This program has opened so many amazing doors for us,” McHugh says.
Small business partners. Partnerships with small businesses allow America First to grow its membership as it expands its geographic footprint, says Streuling.
When the credit union opened branches in Nevada, it increased its visibility in the state through community sponsorships, involvement with Nellis Air Force Base, and other efforts. But Streuling says the credit union also took a unique approach.
America First entered into an advertising agreement with the Las Vegas Raiders, but each year chose one of its small business members to receive the one-year advertising package with the football team at no cost to the business.
As a result of its efforts in Nevada, Streuling says the branches in Las Vegas are among the credit union’s fastest growing facilities.
“It helps. It gets your name out there,” Streuling says. “We know that we’re making a difference.”