Members of the FUND Consulting team attended the 2014 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference which took place in Chicago, where FUND’s offices are based. Sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and San Francisco, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund, this conference is a popular training and networking event for community development professionals, including CRA officers, CDFIs, nonprofits and government officials.
This year, the conference featured the following tracks:
- Innovations in community development policy and practice
- CRA examination training
- National Community Development Lending School training sessions
- Community development tours of Chicago
A common theme that emerged across conference tracks was that of “breaking down silos”. Conference presenters and attendees alike encouraged the notion of collaborations across sectors, programs and project types. FUND Consulting has supported many of its clients in sorting through programmatic opportunities and potential partnerships. Some key questions posed by our clients include:
- Do we cast a wider net in the market in terms of product offerings and geographic areas served, or do we remain a niche lender?
- What are the benefits of strategic partnerships?
- How can we leverage our CDFI status to attract investors across sectors and markets?
Of course, there is no one right answer to these questions. Collaborations work for some and not for others. The critical factor in determining what strategies work best is a strong understanding of your CDFI’s target market and core competencies.
Does your CDFI engage in strategic partnerships? What works well? What are some of the drawbacks?