Community Service

Twelve Ways to Observe the International Year of Co-ops

‘Cooperative enterprises build a better world.’

October 20, 2011
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The United Nations’ 2012 International Year of Cooperatives is only days away. This year-long observance promises a wealth of opportunities for credit unions delivered on a silver platter.

All we have to do is capitalize on them, whether they’re opportunities to herald our cooperative brand distinction in the marketplace, gain increased exposure through the media, or, due to a heightened understanding of what credit unions are, grow our membership to levels never seen before.

I’ve developed 12 ideas to help credit unions observe the International Year of Cooperatives. They not only present opportunities to teach and inform but to promote your credit union/cooperative brand as well.

Hopefully, one of these ideas can find a home at your shop:

1. Invite local cooperatives to set up an information table in your lobby.

2. Include coupons to local co-ops in your statement mailings.

3. Post promotional videos, photos, or call-out boxes on your website providing information about the cooperative business model.

4. Invite local cooperators to write a column for your member newsletter, discussing cooperative values and principles.

5. Join with local cooperators to give talks and make presentations about cooperatives within the local community (i.e.: Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, schools, retirement homes, libraries, etc.).

6. Join with local cooperators to sponsor a kiosk at the mall, airport, or library to educate consumers about cooperatives.

7. Organize a neighborhood volunteer cleanup and repair taskforce involving other local cooperators. The mission is to improve the homes of the elderly and less fortunate to give back to the community. Solicit a local Ace Hardware store [] (a retailer-owned cooperative) to provide tools and assist in public relations and sponsorship generation.

8. Hold a monthly drawing among your members. The winning name is awarded a membership in a local food co-op.

9. Earmark a sum of money for loans reserved for promoting green initiatives or social justice-related services within the community. Promote the availability of these funds through the local media.

10. Present a “Cooperator Award” to someone in the community who embodies values. You may invite members to vote for the candidate of their choice. Hold an awards dinner or reception with proceeds going to the Children’s Miracle Network or the local Red Cross.

11. Launch your own Credit Union Angel program. These angels are volunteers who look in on elderly people, military families, and others to make sure their needs are being met.

12. Come up with your own idea and tell us about it. This way we’ll all benefit.

WALT LASKOS serves as principal of The Laskos Group, a Temecula, Calif.-based provider of branding, communications, and public relations services. He previously served as public relations director for the former Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, where he conceived Operation Best Wishes, an annual campaign allowing military families to record and send video-based webcast greetings to military personnel deployed overseas. Laskos also writes a blog, Laskos on Credit Unions.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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