When organizations come together to create meaningful partnerships, the benefits ripple throughout communities to create strong connections and prosperous neighbourhoods.
To learn more about building and maintaining community partnerships, Village Media spoke with Liisa Woolley, Senior Vice President of Member Experience for Northern Credit Union. Liisa is a long-time advocate for giving back to the community and is committed to the many partnerships she and the team at Northern Credit Union cultivate in the communities they serve.
“Community partnerships allow organizations and people to come together as a force for good, leveraging a wider network of skills, values, and experiences to meet common goals and strengthen communities,” says Liisa.
The Importance of Community Partnerships
When it comes to making decisions, advocating for mutual values, and putting boots on the ground to drive change, there is power in numbers. As more organizations come together to ignite change, more significant and meaningful impacts can be made in the community.
There are a number of additional benefits to community partnerships, including:
- Having a positive impact on an organization’s employee morale and public image
- Serving the greater good of the community
- Helping businesses to build positive reputations among new and existing clients and employees.
- Organizations are perceived as trustworthy, respectable places where people want to work, support, and do business.
Business-to-business partnerships, especially on a local level, have notable benefits for both new and existing organizations. Local partnerships can help emerging businesses gain valuable exposure to a wider network of potential customers and develop a better understanding of market insights from established businesses.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for local businesses to support each other through special offers, events, and exclusive opportunities if they have a pre-existing relationship.
Liisa adds, “In Sault Ste. Marie we often see small businesses come together to host markets, plan community events, and collaborate on projects that benefit everyone.”
Building Strong Relationships
A successful partnership starts with a common goal between organizations, such as fundraising for charity.
Northern Credit Union is a good example of an organization that has a continuing history of working closely with community partners. They build partnerships by proactively getting involved with philanthropic and economic developmental opportunities.
“The key to longevity and value in a partnership is to go beyond providing monetary support, and exploring how we can work together in more significant ways. Through this principle we have cultivated strong, lasting partnerships with charities, organizations, and individuals across Ontario,” says Liisa.
Northern Credit Union also prioritizes building community partnerships with their business members on a deeper level than providing banking services. Their Business Relationship Managers provides expert guidance and support throughout businesses journeys, visiting construction sites and recommending relevant local services to brand new businesses, and remaining in stable communication as businesses grow. They also partner with many of their business members by using their services internally and working closely with them on a regular basis.
“To go the extra mile for our business members, you will often see Northern Credit Union promoting them on our social media channels or partnering with them for community-based campaigns,” says Liisa. “Doing more for our business members by creating these lasting partnerships is truly a win/win situation, because if they succeed, we succeed.”
Working Together Strengthens Communities
Strong partnerships not only help to build businesses, but they are an important element in building strong and sustainable communities.
For example, Northern Credit Union has built strong, lasting partnerships with the Sault Area Hospital Foundation, ARCH Hospice, The Shoe Fits, and the Delta Hotels Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront. Representatives from these four organizations, along with other external partners such as Cintas, come together on an annual basis to plan and execute Run the Great Lakes, a fundraiser run for ARCH and the SAHF.
“Northern Credit Union has been a proud supporter of this event for a number of years and has recently been heavily involved in the organization process. We saw an opportunity to use our internal resources, such as marketing and community events experts, to ramp up the community engagement for Run the Great Lakes and make a bigger impact to ARCH and the SAHF,” explains Liisa. “Thanks to these partnerships, Northern Credit Union and the partnering organizations have developed deeper business relationships, and been able to support our community in the process.”