Jim Nussle

Tops in advocacy

Ballast Research names the CUNA/league system ‘most influential.’

November 1, 2018

From passing S. 2155 to securing dividend payments totaling $735.7 million for more than 5,700 credit unions by successfully advocating to close the NCUA Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund, the CUNA/league’s fierce, bold 360-degree advocacy has secured some big wins for the movement this year.

In fact, our CUNA/league advocacy is the strongest and most effective it’s ever been—and it’s not just me saying that!

For the third year in a row, an independent study by Ballast Research, formerly National Journal Research, rated the CUNA/league system as the most influential financial services organization in Washington, D.C.

Let me repeat that. Of all the financial services organizations in the study, including all bank and credit union groups, the CUNA/league system is No. 1—period.

Other good news from the study:

• The CUNA/league system has the No. 1 reputation in financial services and No. 9 overall, as rated by senior Washington policymakers.

• We’re the only financial services association to improve its reputation in a year when all other organizations studied declined.

• On top of an industry-leading reputation with Democrats, CUNA’s reputation with GOP policymakers improved more than any other financial services association studied from 2017 to 2018.

These findings demonstrate that our fierce, bold 360-degree offensive approach is working. You see that in not only our influence on Capitol Hill, but in more seamless collaboration between CUNA and the leagues; the growth of our grassroots outreach; wide participation in new Member Activation Programs like Stop the Data Breaches; and the strength of Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), our political action committee.

For the 2017-2018 election cycle, CULAC already has raised $4.4 million and is on pace to exceed the record set in the 2016 cycle of $5.1 million raised. Thus far in primaries and special elections held during this cycle, CULAC-backed candidates have won 332 times, and we’ve had only five losses.

Not only are we working to stack Congress with pro-credit union candidates, we’re building the next generation of credit union advocates. Based on the popularity of last year’s young professional advocacy training, we hosted two all-day crash courses in advocacy for young credit union professionals this fall.

In each training, more than 30 young people learned how to tell their personal stories about credit unions, build and sustain relationships with their members of Congress, and advance the interests of the movement and their credit unions.

The training included:

  • A look at the role credit union staff and volunteers play in credit union advocacy.
  • An overview of CUNA’s political and grassroots programs.
  • A discussion on the role of state leagues and the importance of in-state advocacy.
  • A panel of congressional staffers who shared insights on how to make an impression during meetings with legislators.
  • Hill visit preparation and run-throughs.

When the class concluded, the young professionals tried out their new skills during actual Hike the Hill visits—one of our most high-impact advocacy initiatives.

During Hike the Hill season, policymakers visit with hundreds of dedicated credit union professionals from across the country.

No one can tell the credit union story like you—those who work in credit unions every day and see how the decisions on Capitol Hill impact our 110 million members.

The Ballast Research findings demonstrate that we have Congress’s ear. By working together, we’ll ensure they never forget why credit unions are the best financial partner for Americans.

JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.