1. America’s Credit Union Conference: CUinDenver2015.org
2. Environmental Scan resources: cuna.org/strategicplanning
3. Member Activation Program: cuna.org, select “grassroots & political action”
4. Unite for Good: uniteforgood.org
The reason is simple: Asking members to engage lawmakers on behalf of credit unions’ legislative or regulatory priorities requires reminding members what makes credit unions different and special.
Too often we take for granted that credit union members “get it.” We assume they know, for example, that their credit union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative, that it doesn’t pay corporate income taxes, or even that they’re member-owners.
Many times, even those members who are the biggest users of credit union services are unaware of these basic facts. Years of consumer research by CUNA has found this to be true over and over again in markets throughout the country.
But there’s a silver lining: If you tell members the credit union difference, they pick up on it fairly quickly. After all, they already have a vague sense they’re getting a great deal on whatever financial service they use at their credit union.
Education lets them know why they’re getting such a great deal. Members can connect the dots between the money they save at their credit union on the one hand and the structure that underpins and enables that value proposition on the other.
Moreover, the education process provides a powerful reminder to those members that they ought to shop first at their credit union the next time they need a car loan, credit card, or mortgage.
And if you tell these same members that taxation, excessive regulatory burden, or expensive merchant data breaches, for example, might threaten this value proposition, they’ll now go to the barricades on your behalf.
It’s a win-win for credit unions. Communicating with members early and often on key advocacy issues reinforces their membership loyalty and grows wallet share, all while also engaging them in our fights in Washington and in state capitols.
Credit unions surpassed 100 million memberships in 2014, and indications are that membership growth is increasing at a clip of 4.4% a year. Just imagine how much we could get done in Washington and in state capitols if we could truly mobilize millions of credit union members on behalf of our industry’s priorities.
And if in the process we could turn these members into more loyal users of credit union services, we’d be crazy not to engage them, right?
RYAN DONOVAN is CUNA’s chief advocacy officer. Contact him at 202-508-6750 or at email@example.com.
TREY HAWKINS is CUNA’s vice president of political affairs. Contact him at 202-508-6712 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.