Q: How do you engage in grassroots advocacy?
I believe advocacy truly begins at the local level. Consider the field of membership for Local Government Federal Credit Union. Our members include all municipalities, counties, and other local government institutions in North Carolina.
In addition to serving local government employees, our membership includes elected and appointed officials. Every mayor, county commissioner, municipal official, elected sheriff, register of deeds, fire chief, and other public policymakers are within our target market. These are the folks who make decisions that affect our local communities. We are proud to call them members.
I suspect that most state and national public officials got their start at the local government level. If this is so, then the future leaders of our state and federal government are in local government today.
Now is the time to engage them with a close viewpoint about credit unions. We can show our local leaders a first-hand account of what it means to be a member of a cooperative that celebrates and supports community achievement.
We try to get our local leaders on board with credit unions at the beginning of their political careers. This is a great time to tout the ideals of membership and cooperatives.
I can’t imagine any local politician not being moved by the power of the credit union spirit in his or her own communities. And when they rise to statewide and national offices, we remind them from whence they came with credit unions.
Q: What story do you tell your representatives?
There are two types of messages that we can deliver to our representatives in Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C. When it comes to the inside baseball operations of credit unions, our staff is adept at bringing a message. We can talk all day about regulatory relief, fair legislation that helps consumers, and new powers for serving communities. Our professional staffs know the technical issues to a T.
If we want to connect with a congressional legislator on a personal level, we prefer to let our members do the talking. When it comes to relaying a message to our elected representatives about real hometown issues, consumers bring a credible voice to the debate. Small business owners and entrepreneurs know the struggles of operating a business in a stagnant local economy.
Members who reflect the dreams and ambitions of their neighbors bring a powerful message to our statehouse and the nation’s capital. This is especially relevant to our local government members. They truly understand citizenship rights and engaging with their government.
NEXT: Proudest credit union achievement