On My Mind

Let’s Tell Our Story

If we fail to tell the CU story, others gladly will. But what are they saying?

March 7, 2014

A well-known philosophical exercise examines the question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”

While “sound” can be understood as a physical event formed by compressions moving through the air as waves, it’s also defined as a human experience—part of the communication process.

In the latter case, sound becomes reality only when the waves contact a human ear, stimulating the auditory organs and informing the brain.

The same holds true when telling the credit union story. There’s no sound—no story—until it’s told.

If we truly differ from our for-profit counterparts and engage members and communities in ways that go far beyond the delivery of financial services— yet fail to utter a word about our successes and deeds—there’s no story. There’s only silence.

More important, there’s no communication of information and our effort to evoke a response or reaction yields no return.

This is why it’s so important for credit unions—and their members— to engage in advocacy. Building relationships with our elected officials and their staff is at the heart of a collaborative effort laced with opportunities to tell the credit union story.

How else will lawmakers learn about the deeds of credit unions— deeds that affect their constituents on a daily basis and are transforming the neighborhoods of America?

It’s important to tell stories like Sun Federal Credit Union helping the family of Camille Estelle Osborn meet the little girl’s medical expenses and St. Louis Community Credit Union working to restore the dignity of neighborhoods long abandoned by mainstream lenders.

These are the tales of people helping people. They’re worth their weight in gold because they also exert influence on legislation, whether it’s being shaped in Washington, D.C., or locally from Augusta to Honolulu.

Think about it: If we’re not telling the credit union story to those who make and regulate laws, others certainly are—and one can only imagine what they’re saying.

WALT LASKOS is the editor-in-chief of Credit Union Magazine.