CUNA hosted the quarterly meeting of its Political and Grassroots Network (PGN) Thursday, highlighting CUNA’s advocacy work and featuring input from credit unions around the country.
CUNA staff gave details on CUNA’s recent action alert on the Fed’s debit routing proposal that CUNA believes would increase costs and should be withdrawn.
CUNA is calling on all stakeholders to use its Grassroots Action Center to share their concerns before the August 11 comment deadline.
Linda Armyn, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Bethpage FCU, Bethpage, N.Y., said as her credit union prepares for summer and fall advocacy, they are working training staff to be good advocates.
“This includes programs like mentoring, bringing in outside speakers, showing how our work in the community ties to our advocacy efforts, and getting comfortable with how to tell your story,” Armyn said. “We’ve also been using CUNA’s MAP program to reach out to employees and asking them to tell their stories about how they helped a member enrich their lives, how it felt.”
Armyn added that they are videotaping the best stories, and then will go out to credit union members with the employee stories with some of the videos and asking for the member side of these stories.
Monica Galindo, director of advocacy external affairs at GECU, El Paso, Texas, said her credit union works hard to include young professionals in its advocacy. GECU has around 850 employees, 70% of which are under the age of 40.
She said one of the pillars of GECU’s young professionals program focuses on advocacy, and part of the program includes contests and events with prizes that include a trip to the annual CUNA Governmental Affair s Conference.
“Being able to take a contest winner with us to CUNA GAC, to Washington, D.C. to walk up to Capitol Hill, talk to legislators is a great experiences, and when we get back we have the young professionals share their experiences from the trip with our management team, and their peers,” Galindo said. “We feel advocacy can be more impactful when you’re hearing about it from your peers, and this helps us turn our young professionals into ambassadors for the credit union movement.
Kim Fettkether, vice president of strategic development and advocacy officer at Veridian CU, Waterloo, Iowa, shared her experiences with a credit union expanding across state borders. Veridian opened its first branch in Nebraska five years ago, and now has four total around the Omaha area.
“There’s not really a cookie cutter way to go about this. We’ve identified areas where we have to simply engage employees differently. If you’re an employee in Nebraska and keep getting emails about a priority in Des Moines, that’s not making you feel very engaged,” she said. “So we’re very intentional as we make decisions and make requests of employees. Can employees in both states help? If not, how can we tailor this, or even turn it into an opportunity in the other state?”
Fettkether said Veridian joined the Nebraska Credit Union League when they went across the border and are working to continue to make the relationship mutually beneficial.
“We’re working to deepen our relationship with the League, both in terms of what they can provide us in Nebraska and also how we can assist in their efforts as members,” she said. “This becomes more important as we grow our footprint, and we’re always looking for feedback from groups like the Political and Grassroots Network.”