The 2022 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) is about advocacy. CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan gave attendees an overview of the movement’s advocacy agenda for those attending the conference virtually.
Donovan started the session by reviewing the advocacy wins of 2021—including IRS reporting, interchange, prompt corrective action relief, field-of-membership expansions, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and preferred stock purchase agreements—and acknowledging that credit unions are starting 2022 in a “place of tremendous strength.”
“A successful advocacy agenda comes at the intersection of what credit unions need from the public policy space and what the political environment will allow,” Donovan says. “Advocacy is not a passive engagement. It’s a participation sport. There’s no sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying our advocacy ride.”
CUNA and the leagues have done a good job of engaging in advocacy. Donovan cited a 2021 Ballast Research study that ranked CUNA and the leagues 10th of 125 organizations that do advocacy work in Washington, D.C.
The strong brand stems from the credit union movement exhibiting fierce, bold advocacy; addressing issues from all angles; saturating policymakers with messages; and working in a united effort. The strategy is passed to advocates through education and events like CUNA GAC.
The goal of CUNA’s advocacy efforts is to revolutionize credit unions’ operating environment to improve members’ financial well-being and advance the communities credit unions serve.
CUNA’s advocacy efforts break down into four pillars, which each have their own priorities for 2022:
Accomplishing these advocacy goals in 2022 will require navigating a unique political environment, as November will see the first midterm elections after a new president has taken office and after the redistricting process.
“Our agenda must reflect an understanding that Congress continues to operate with a level of dysfunction,” Donovan says. “At the federal level, we feel pretty good about where we stand on the tax status. After all, Congress just enacted two of the largest spending bills and didn’t even consider taxing credit unions.
“At the state level, our best defense is a good offense,” he continues. “Tell the story about how credit unions are working to advance their communities.”
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