Community Service

How to Build Community Partners

‘The only ones that work are those where everybody gets value.’

June 14, 2013
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Federation Panel
From left: Jonathan Mintz, Robert Annibale, and William Bynum
Cooperation was a central theme at the 2013 Annual Conference of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in Baltimore.
Whether it was credit unions working with other credit unions or with community organizations, partnership-building was top of mind from session to session and speaker to speaker.
The constant refrain led Federation President/CEO Cathie Mahon to ask, How do credit unions get started with community partners?
Jonathan Mintz, city of New York commissioner for consumer affairs; Robert Annibale, global director for Citi Microfinance and Community Development; and William Bynum, CEO of Hope Credit Union and its sponsor Hope Enterprise Corporation; offer this advice for creating effective partnerships:
  • Look for on-boarding compliments. Increase your visibility by finding a way to include enrollment of your services with the programming registration of a partner.
  • Tailor your products. Offer transparent and simple products and services that are easy for partners to explain and sell to their constituents.
  • Collect data. When partners invest in you, they want to see the return. Set up processes for collecting data your partner can assess, allowing support to continue and build.
  • Provide value. Understand what your partner needs, line up your interests, and find common ground.
“Partnerships are not easy,” Bynum said. “The only ones that work are those where everybody gets value.”

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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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