Ryan Donovan
CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan appears on the main stage at CUNA GAC Monday. (Photo by

Financial well-being is critical to advocacy

Movement’s advantage is its impact on constituents, communities.

February 28, 2022

Improving members’ financial well-being is a core component of credit union advocacy, CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan said on the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference stage Monday afternoon.

“Our greatest advocacy advantage isn’t our proximity to lawmakers, it’s the impact all credit unions have on their constituents,” he says. “Improving financial well-being and advancing the communities we serve is core to the credit union mission, and it’s critical to our advocacy work because it is the lens through which we must get policymakers to look when considering our priorities.

“Have no doubt that your message of how your credit union improves your members’ financial well-being and advances the communities you serve will absolutely resonate with the audience on the Hill because many of them face financial challenges every single day,” he adds.

‘Have no doubt that your message... will absolutely resonate with the audience on the Hill.’
Ryan Donovan

Donovan recalled racking up debt while working as a staffer on Capitol Hill. He was told by his boss to “go to the credit union,” which helped consolidate his loans.

“Twenty years on, I vividly recall how it felt for that financial stress to disappear as I sat in the Rayburn branch of Congressional Federal Credit Union. It was incredible,” he says. “That’s how your members feel when your work improves their financial well-being. Financial well-being is a feeling.

“The truth is that you probably have hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of how you’ve improved your members’ financial well-being—and they’re probably a lot more consequential,” he adds.

Donovan said this helps CUNA’s advocacy agenda focus on four things: 

  • Expanding powers and opportunities.
  • Reducing regulatory burden.
  • Keeping credit unions relevant.
  • Preserving the credit union tax status. 

“When we speak their language and connect with their priorities, policymakers will be open to ways to allowing us to do more to serve our members and their communities; they’ll be open to the impact that regulation has on the availability of service; and they will want to work to keep credit unions relevant,” he says.

“Our underlying message remains the same: Help us serve consumers to improve their financial well-being and advance our communities. You must know your audience. And you must make it personal.”

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