Trey Hawkins

4 traits of an effective advocate

Here's what leads to effective advocacy, according to CUNA’s Trey Hawkins.

July 19, 2018

If you’re invested in credit unions, then advocacy should matter to you, says Trey Hawkins, CUNA’s deputy chief advocacy officer for political action.

What happens in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals across the nation directly affects credit unions' ability to operate, he says.

“This stuff matters,” Hawkins tells CUNA Management School students in Madison, Wis. “It affects how you can serve your membership.”

Hawkins highlights four traits of an effective credit union advocate:

1. Be knowledgeable

  • Know what you're talking about. Know your credit union’s mission, challenges, and needs.

  • Know the targets of your advocacy (lawmakers, regulators, the media).

  • Learn all you can about public policy issues affecting your credit union.

2. Be involved

  • Represent your credit union in the community.

  • Volunteer for local causes, charities, and committees.

  • Build relationships with community leaders, politicians, reporters, and key influencers.

3. Be willing

  • Respond to calls to action.

  • Participate in advocacy events.

  • Interact with lawmakers in Capitol Hill meetings, district office meetings, town halls, fundraisers, and credit union tours.

  • Build relationships with lawmakers and their staff.

  • Encourage your board, management, employees, and members to participate in advocacy.

4. Be passionate

  • No one knows or cares more about your credit union, its mission, and members than you do. Own your passion and bring it to your advocacy.

“If those most invested in the success of credit unions don’t advocate, who will?” asks Hawkins.