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One of my favorite parts of my job is the opportunity to teach a class on advocacy to third year students at CUNA Management School, as I did earlier this week. It's great to speak to future leaders in the credit union system and help them understand how credit unions intersect the public policy sector. This morning, I received an email from three students at Southeast Regional CUNA Management School; they were working on their project and had a pretty straightforward question for me: Why is advocacy important to the credit union movement? Here is my response.
Advocacy is important to the credit union system for many reasons.
1. Everywhere there has been a credit union system established, those organizing the credit union system have had to fight to establish it. At its most basic level, our advocacy efforts represent a continuation of that fight. Credit unions are disruptive in the financial sector.
2. If those who are most invested in the success of credit unions do not engage in advocating for the system, who will? We have a lot of voices in the public policy space that seek to eliminate us or box us in. If we don’t stand up for ourselves no one else will. This is why it is critically important that our advocacy efforts involve credit union members. After all there is no one more invested in the success of the credit union than a credit union member.
3. We need to advocate so that our charter can keep up with the evolution that is taking place in the financial sector. We need to make sure credit unions are able to offer new products and services their members demand. Who could have imagined 15 years ago that we could buy a cup of coffee using our watch? What will the world look like 15 years from now? I don’t know, but I think it’s important that we stay at the table in Washington and the state capitals so that we’re able to ensure from a public policy perspective that we can participate and compete.
4. Finally, we need to protect the tax status and remove barriers so you can better serve your members. This is hardly ever last on the list, but there’s a lot of strong philosophical and practical reasons to advocate before you get the issues we’re working on. But the issues facing credit unions in the public policy space are critical and we need a full time advocacy presence because at some point the gridlock in Congress will break and we’ll need to be ready to take advantage of it.
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Credit Union National Association is the most influential financial services trade association and the only national association that advocates on behalf of all of America's credit unions. We work tirelessly to protect your best interests in Washington and all 50 states. We fuel your professional growth at every level and champion the credit union story at every turn.
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