Do you know your community?

first_img 19SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Sarah Marshall Sarah Marshall is a consultant in the credit union industry, and can be reached for partnership and speaking opportunities through Your Credit Union Partner. Her background in community development includes … Web: Details The word ‘community’ is tossed around a lot. For some of our credit unions, it is part of our name. A growing number of us identify as community development credit unions.  Most of the time, the way we think about community is fairly simple. A community is the local area that we serve, or the people we market toward. The typical definition is fairly generic, and most of the time people don’t apply a lot of thought to what community means anymore. In a world where community has lost meaning, brands that build a community stand out. These brands often have good marketing, but their marketing is good because they have a clear identity. This means people are attracted to the brand, and find an element in the brand that matches their ideals and values. The strongest brands connect with people and connect people – giving them a sense that they are part of a community. Community is people, not place: It is easy to think of community as a local geographic area. Credit unions with community charters frequently think of their physical boundaries. Our natural tendency is to think of buildings and physical spaces as the community. Keep in mind that locations are important, but only because they give people a space to form community. A strong community remains stable even when buildings close or move. If your credit union becomes a center of community, your organization is at a significant advantage. Workshops, financial literacy courses, and relationships with loan officers and member services representatives go a long way toward creating community. There may be other ways your credit union can do this too – think of ways your credit union can be a presence, not just a financial institution. How many banks really stand out as community centers anyway? Community is relationships: Community is formed because of a common bond between people. This is something that credit unions should understand intuitively. People tend to group and spend time with people who are similar to them in some ways. Although organizational culture is a different subject, people are often attracted toward jobs because in some way it is a match for their personality. Credit unions were formed with a common bond. Culture can change over time though, and it is important to stay up to date on the pulse of your membership. Their relationship to your credit union is evolving. Make sure your credit union stays on top of what the people you interact with value and need. This happens by building genuine relationships with your members. Community is engagement plus ownership:  This one is especially for community development, CDFI, and low-income designated credit unions. To be part of a community involves a feeling of ownership. If you define yourself as a credit union with a mission to serve underserved markets, but they aren’t engaged in and leading what you are doing, then you are just a ‘development’ credit union.  One quick way to gauge this is through the diversity of your board and management team. Management and staff should be reflective of your community. A credit union serving underserved markets should provide ownership to those in the community – meaning your community should be represented on your team. Hosting community can build a strong loyalty to your credit union. People remain where they feel valued, welcomed, and engaged. Learn more about those who come through your door to build a strong, engaged member base. last_img