“Global” Perspective on Advocacy: How to Get Involved in Supporting the Credit Union Movement

With presidential primaries for both major parties coming down the final stretch, it’s easy to think the national political season is in its final throes. However, in truth and in practice, advocacy never really ends. And with the recent re-launch of CUNA Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) kits, members of the credit union movement once again have the tools at their disposal to get involved. But what does it mean to get involved? Where does one even start?

Linda Crane of Global Credit Union (Spokane, Washington) talked about Global’s increased involvement in credit union advocacy, following Global’s recognition last year at the Amplify Convention Awards Gala in Portland for their work supporting CULAC through year-round events and engagement with employees and members.  

According to Crane, the idea to get involved was two-fold: both “communicate to members and employees about advocacy and why it’s important, but also to have fun.” They started in the simplest way possible: sitting down, charting out a plan and sticking to it.

“If you’re just trying to do it on the fly you’re not going to see the same results,” she said, adding that getting buy-in from executive and management teams creates a credit union-wide culture of engagement.

“We are now making advocacy a part of our strategic focus, but it started with getting buy-in from the executive level along with front-line employees.”

Global went from one or two events during CULAC month (July) to multiple engagement opportunities every week. This may sound like a daunting management challenge, but Crane called it necessary to capture everyone and giving them options at involvement.

“After you get that buy-in, you have multiple ways for employees to become engaged. You know, as an incentive, maybe they don’t want donuts but they’d be interested in seeing a VP wash their car. That, and finding ways for employees from different branches, outside headquarters, to get involved,” she said.

Crane also commented on engaging in advocacy at an enterprise level, and working with both newer employees alongside more seasoned credit union professionals, noting that education can help all employees become immersed in a singularly-focused advocacy push.

“We have a lot of long-time employees, but we have also seen a lot of new front-line staff come in. How do we get them excited and engaged in the process? As long-time employees, we already understand the credit union culture. We’ve been in it, but often times they haven’t,” she said.

“As we build our focus on advocacy, we are looking at more than just encouraging participation, but education on why it’s important. Educating our employees on what kind of impact this is having, issues around supporting credit unions, how to write their legislators. That’s the culture change we’re building right now.”

The credit union has elevated advocacy to one of the strategic goals and objectives it shares with employees as part of the strategic plan.

Thanks to the excellent work Linda did last year bringing awareness to the importance of supporting CULAC with our employees, we began an advocacy strategy to communicate consistently to our members, said Abigail Franklin, Vice President of Marketing and Strategy. “We are building an advocacy program adding employee training on the credit union difference, participation incentives for registering to vote and voting, calls to action like contacting their legislators on important credit union issues and serving as credit union advocates for our members. It’s the next step in the process—supporting and facilitating engagement while serving as a knowledgeable resource for our members who want to be part of the credit union movement

Of the dozens of events Global organized, which was the best-received?

“We had employees line up, especially to watch one particular VP wash their car. Some employees brought two cars for that VP, actually. It was fun, but it was also a great team building experience for our VPs. It was good on all sides.”

To learn more about how to get involved, visit the NWCUA Advocacy Resource Center http://nwcua.org/advocacy or contact NWCUA Grassroots Advocacy Director Samantha A.M. Beeler at sbeeler@nwcua.org or 503.350.2218.

Throughout the summer we will be spotlighting other credit unions who do a great job raising awareness and raising funds for CULAC. If you would like to share your credit union’s story contact Eric Horvath at ehorvath@nwcua.org or 503.350.2222.

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222, ehorvath@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, NWCUA.