Credit union advocacy is all about numbers, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle told a crowd of nearly 5,000 credit union leaders during his speech at Monday morning’s General Session.
“Politicians listen to people because people vote—not associations,” Nussle said. “So if we’re going to be the kind of strong organization we need in order to bring our message to Washington even more effectively, and go on offense, then we need to engage people that have never been engaged before.”
Mobilizing credit union staff, volunteers, and members would amplify credit unions’ advocacy efforts exponentially, according to Nussle.
“You’ve got 6,400 credit unions, so we have 6,400 CEOs who ought to be here today. And 80,000 boards members who have direct skin in the game and should be the most passionate members of this choir we have here,” he said. “Not to mention the 250,000 employees that work for your credit unions. That’s 350,000 people right there who have skin in the game.”
GAC represents a tremendous opportunity to build relationships with legislators, according to Nussle. But to bring about legislative and regulatory changes, credit unions also must attract fresh voices alongside longtime advocates.
“For us to be winning, we need to be growing. I want our market share to increase. I want our credit union opportunity to be available to whole new generations,” Nussle said. “We have young people that have never been exposed to credit unions. We have new Americans that have never been exposed to credit unions.”
Nussle subscribes to the theory that the best defense is a good offense. “Offense to me is a simple formula. Offense comes from strength, strength comes from our members, and if we’re going to be successful in our advocacy efforts, we have to engage our members.”