When I exposed Ukrainian credit union and association leaders to the principles of advocacy, I encouraged them to work on adopting principles and processes that promote unity, clarity of objectives, and discipline and endurance.
I noted that advocacy is a process, not an event. I stressed that it will take time to develop and succeed.
And, I challenged them to call upon those most invested in credit unions’ success—members—to help with advocacy.
Everyone in the workshop expressed an eagerness to develop a sophisticated advocacy program, and the quality and depth of their questions and discussion was impressive.
Time constraints prohibited us from covering all of the prepared material. But I could tell they were truly getting it when I heard them express some of the same concerns I hear from U.S. credit union leaders regarding the involvement of members in these efforts.
The next steps for Ukrainian credit unions follow two paths. On one hand, they have immediate challenges they must address with their government, and they need to continue their direct lobbying efforts on credit unions’ tax status and their ability to serve legal persons.
As Ukraine continues its path toward European Union membership, it faces deadlines that will make it difficult to change the tax treatment of credit unions.
At the same time, the country’s credit unions would be much more effective if they could develop a sophisticated advocacy agenda and program.
We all got a good chuckle when I said that from my perspective, the only difference between the U.S. credit union system’s potential and the Ukrainian credit union system’s potential was the fact the U.S. has a 200-year head start in representative democracy.
Their potential is truly in their own hands, and the workshop was the first step on a long path. Now we must help them take the next steps.
They’re eager and ready for the challenge.
RYAN DONOVAN is CUNA’s chief advocacy officer. Contact him at 202-508-6750.