Capitol Hill isn’t the only place where we, as a unified credit union movement, must meet and discourse with our elected officials.
In fact, this summer presented a host of opportunities to connect with lawmakers and get in their ears about credit union priorities.
It began during the two national party conventions. Working closely with the Ohio Credit Union League and Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, both of which led inspiring fundraising efforts, we created two leave-behind projects that not only will have a lasting effect on the host cities but also raise credit unions’ standing among lawmakers.
Along with two widely attended public forums on the middle class, these efforts gave CUNA, leagues, and member credit unions an unmistakable presence at the national conventions.
These events involved hundreds of lawmakers who, thanks to our work, left the conventions with a stronger sense of the importance of credit unions in their communities.
We had another opportunity to remind them of this fact in Chicago. In early August, with the support of other leagues and CUNA, the Illinois Credit Union League led efforts to form a strong presence at the National Conference of State Legislatures, which drew hundreds of state lawmakers.
Similar to our work at the conventions, the league held high-profile public events, raised funds to increase credit union visibility at the meeting, and logged valuable time with lawmakers to apprise them of issues important to credit unions.
Following the good work of Troy Stang and the Northwest Credit Union Association last year, Tom Kane and the Illinois League again set the bar high for credit union awareness at this event. I know Paul Gentile and the Cooperative Credit Union Association will be up to the challenge next year when the summit travels to Boston.
Meanwhile, we’re still connecting with lawmakers. For the rest of the year, it’s important to meet them in their home districts.
Over the summer, Congress took an unprecedented seven-week recess. This presented a critical opportunity for credit unions to invite lawmakers to their branches to illustrate, in person, the ties credit unions have to their communities—in addition to the burdens created by over-regulation.
From experience, I know lawmakers appreciate opportunities to meet with constituents—the people they were elected to represent—to learn about the issues that are important to them.
Before long, they’ll all return home again in advance of the November elections. To set up a meeting, call their district offices and talk with a staff member.
Or, reach out to your credit union league, as we have coordinated with them to help credit unions schedule meetings with lawmakers.
There’s one last way I would like us to contact lawmakers: Participating in CUNA’s Member Activation Program (MAP).
More than 300 credit unions have enrolled in MAP, with a potential reach of more than 13.5 million members. That means when we launch a campaign we have the ability to ask 13.5 million people to get off the sidelines and get involved in advocacy.
This fall we’ll focus on the important role credit unions play in strengthening the middle class.
Our latest MAP campaign, “Ease the Burden,” reached 600,000 members. Of those, 20,000 members sent messages to Capitol Hill asking lawmakers and regulators to reduce regulatory burden on credit unions.
What if all of America’s credit unions had participated? What if we asked 100 million credit union members to join our advocacy efforts?
What if each time credit unions identified an issue we have to fight for we collectively sent millions of messages to lawmakers on Capitol Hill? What kind of message would that send?
That’s the power of CUNA MAP. Please get involved today.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.