GAC: Nussle says there's a whole lot of members out there to engage

March 9, 2015

WASHINGTON (3/10/15)--Credit union advocacy is all about numbers, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle told a crowd of nearly 5,000 credit union leaders during his speech Monday at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).

"Politicians listen to people because people vote, not associations," Nussle said. "So if we're going to be the kind of strong organization we need in order to bring our message to Washington even more effectively, and go on offense, then we need to engage people who have never been engaged before."

Nussle quickly showed how fast the numbers can rise once people start getting engaged.

"You've got 6,400 credit unions, so we have 6,400 CEOs that ought to be here today. And 80,000 boards of directors that have direct skin in the game and should be the most passionate members of this choir we have here," Nussle said. "Not to mention the 250,000 employees that work for your CUs. That's 350,000 people right there that have skin in the game."

Click for slide show CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle welcomes nearly 5,000 credit union leaders to CUNA's 2015 Governmental Affairs Conference. Nussle shared the importance of continued advocacy engagement among the credit union community. (CUNA Photo)

He said that if credit unions can count on all of them in advocacy efforts, it's going to help "us to go on offense" and be "successful in engaging whole new members."

Continuing to bring new voices into the fold, while keeping current advocacy efforts up, is what will help credit unions bring the legislative and regulatory changes they need to thrive, Nussle said.

"For us to be winning, we need to be growing. I want our market share to increase. I want our credit union opportunity to be available to whole new generations," Nussle said. "We have young people who have never been exposed to credit unions. We have new Americans who have never been exposed to credit unions."

Nussle said he subscribes to the theory that the best defense is a good offense.

"Offense to me is a simple formula. Offense comes from strength, strength comes from our members, and if we're going to be successful in our advocacy efforts, we have to engage our members," he said.

Speaking to members of the press after the speech, Nussle added that GAC is a perfect time to get started in those engagement efforts.

"We have an aggressive agenda, great speakers and we're looking forward to our members being very effective in talking to their members of Congress up on Capitol Hill this week," he said. "I'd encourage them to not only build a relationship with their members of Congress, but with their staff. Making those lasting connections is vitally important here, and at home."