Stang Calls for 5-Million-Seat Strategy

Stang congratulated Northwest credit unions on reaching 5.2 million members, and challenged them to engage those members in a 5-million-seat advocacy strategy.

NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang announced on Thursday morning that Northwest credit unions have crossed the 5-million-member threshold, and he called on those credit unions to engage a 5-million-seat strategy for credit union advocacy.

Stang began his Amplify President’s Address with the story of Alan, a credit union member he served early in his career.

“Alan always came in for the same request,” said Stang, “a $26 gas-and-grocery loan to—as he said it—‘get me and Jeannie and the family to Friday’—to his next paycheck.” Through those interactions Alan learned about financial management and eventually upgraded his family’s mobile home.

That, Stang said, is an example of what success looks like for credit unions: giving members the relevant products and services they need to achieve their dreams.

With that Stang launched into a passionate and powerful message about the nature of success for the credit union movement.

Early credit unions, he said, were not authorized to offer mortgages or checking accounts, and their deposits were not insured. “The reason credit unions don’t still look like that is because over time they came together as a movement to clear away the obstacles to serving their members,” said Stang.

“The whole purpose behind the work of the Movement is to give you the tools and freedom you need to serve your members,” he continued.

This collective action, said Stang, the coming together of credit union advocates to create change, is the key source of advocacy power. “The greater our commitment to collective action,” said Stang, “the more powerful we become as a movement.”

He called on the 166 credit unions affiliated with the NWCUA, their 1,800 directors, 166 CEOs, and 15,000 employees to engage in credit union advocacy.

“That’s what success looks like,” said Stang.

But he didn’t stop there. He announced from the Amplify stage that Northwest credit unions this year grew their membership to 5.2 million people in Oregon and Washington. “I’d also like to frame this milestone as a challenge,” said Stang. “How many of those 5.2 million members are engaged as credit union advocates?”

Referencing the 535-seat strategy of federal congressional advocacy, Stang called for a 5-million-seat strategy. “This new 5-million-seat strategy starts with you,” he said. “It’s up to you to engage your 15,000 employees in telling the credit union story as part of every transaction with your 5.2 million members, every day.”

He then posed the question, “So what does this collective success actually look like?” before unspooling a highlight reel of the ways in which Northwest credit unions exemplified collective action over the past year, including:

  • Using the Northwest Credit Unions Economic Impact Report to share the value of credit unions with every legislator with an address in the Northwest;
  • Coming together to move charter updates bill and other bills through the legislatures in both Oregon and Washington;
  • Supporting federal legislators as they push regulatory relief through Congress;
  • Engaging in dialogue with state and federal regulators;
  • Contributing to the realization of a number of specific regulatory relief measures;
  • Supporting the Proactive Credit Union Messaging Campaign that has reached Northwest consumers 58 million times; and
  • Translating the messages of the NWCUA’s Pro-Credit Messaging Toolkit into their own brand voice to tell the stories of their credit unions’ value and impact to the members and communities they serve.

“That is what success looks like,” Stang punctuated, challenging the credit union leaders present to imagine how much more would be possible if they engaged their 15,000 employees and 5.2 million members.

Stang closed with another personal story, this one from earlier this year. He flew back to Minnesota to spend time with his parents, and he and his father took a drive out to the family’s historic farm.

Driving down the old country roads, Stang noticed a new plot sectioned off from one of the big farms, a common way for young families to get their first home or for older couples to retire.

“But when the name on the mailbox came into focus it read, ‘Home of Alan and Jeannie and their family,’” said Stang. “At the end of that driveway was the culmination of a dream that Alan and Jeannie began building years ago.”

Stang pointed out that forty years ago Alan and Jeannie could not have gotten have gone to a credit union for their new mortgage because credit unions couldn’t offer mortgages.

“What will your members need forty years from now? Or even five years from now?” he asked.

To keep up with the pace of change, said Stang, “it’s going to take 5-million-seat strategy in which every credit union, Board Member, executive, and employee join together as advocates of this movement” to bring members, policy makers, and the public into the credit union story.

“That’s how we make sure families like Alan’s—and like the families you serve every day—will always be able to rely on credit unions to help them achieve their dreams,” said Stang. “Because for all of us in the movement—credit unions, leagues, CUNA, and business partners—that is what success looks like.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, NWCUA.