4. Plan to Win
“Time is of the essence—credit unions can’t wait to see which direction Congress takes on this issue before we engage our members,” says Haley DaVee, vice president of governmental and public affairs with the Kansas Credit Union Association.
“As the plan for tax reform develops, it’s imperative Congress hears directly from credit unions’ 96 million members about the importance of the tax exemption and the benefits members derive from it.” “We added a new advocacy page to our website for the ‘Don’t Tax My Credit Union’ campaign, and we’re encouraging members to write their legislators,” says Vickie Hurt, co-president/CEO of $265 million asset Quest Credit Union, Topeka, Kan.
“This message is so important,” she says. “It’s about projecting our voices louder and clearer than the other organizations facing a similar threat.”
“We want to keep a consistent drumbeat of communication flowing to the North Carolina congressional delegation,” says Jeff Hardin, director of communications for the North Carolina Credit Union League. “To do this, we organized our credit unions into eight groups. Once every eight weeks, the employees of the credit unions in one of the groups contact each member of our congressional delegation to reinforce the ‘Don’t Tax My Credit Union’ message.
“As for social media, we created a publication on Paper.li [an online content aggregating and publishing tool] called #DontTax- MyCU where we summarize the links posted on Twitter under the @CUNAadvocacy and #DontTaxMyCU handles,” says Hardin. “The link to that publication is donttaxmynccu.com.
“Now, credit unions everywhere can see how others are talking about the issue with members, staff , lawmakers, and the media. It’s a form of ‘crowdsourcing’ ideas about how to engage these critical audiences,” Hardin explains.
In response to a Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) alert, Shell Federal Credit Union, Deer Park, Texas, promotes “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” on its website (shellfcu.org). The credit union also sent an e-blast to about 35,000 of its members urging them to contact their congressional representatives.
“Our most effective tool is our members’ voices,” says Angela Head, chief operations officer and legislative coordinator for the $616 million asset credit union. “The implications for our credit union—and the entire movement—are huge.”
TCUL communicated the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign to its 500 affiliated credit unions and 26 regional chapters. CU ROAR, a network of legislative advocacy teams the league created last year, has advanced the message.
Nearly 50 credit unions participate in ROAR, which stands for “ready, organized, activated, and responsive.” The program expands on the league’s legislative coordinator network by bringing in credit union staff and volunteers to bolster advocacy efforts.
“I’m glad we helped put this advocacy network together during the past few years,” says Jim Phelps, TCUL vice president of legislative affairs. “The network has enabled us to hit the ground running with ‘Don’t Tax My Credit Union.’ ”
With the launch of the tax advocacy grassroots campaign, three significant CUNA/league advocacy initiatives are taking place simultaneously:
• Don’t Tax My Credit Union;
• Unite for Good—the rallying effort behind credit unions’ shared strategic vision of “Americans Choose Credit Unions as their Best Financial Partner”; and
• Plan to Win—a strategy to maximize support for credit unions on Capitol Hill.
Credit unions will recall that during the 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference, CUNA called on them to work toward a movementwide strategic vision, collaborate to remove barriers, raise awareness, and foster service excellence under the “Unite for Good” banner.
While the three initiatives are distinct, Cheney underscores the fact that they’re also strongly interrelated. “The action steps for removing barriers under ‘Unite for Good’ draw heavily from our ‘Plan to Win,’ ” he wrote in his weekly update, The Cheney Report. “The unified approach inherent in both ‘Unite for Good’ and ‘Plan to Win’ will be instrumental in generating the level of participation we need in our ‘Don’t Tax My Credit Union ’ campaign.
“All three tie together and reinforce one another,” says Cheney, “which is why your participation in all three is crucial.”
LISA J. McCUE is CUNA’s vice president of editorial communications. Contact her at 202-508-6766.
STEVE RODGERS is CUNA’s editorial director. Contact him at 608-231-4082.
The staffs of CUNA’s News Now and Credit Union Magazine contributed to this article.