Credit Union Advocates Make Strong Statement to Washington Legislators

More than 250 advocates attended Credit Union Day at the Capitol last week.

2/11/2020

More than 250 credit union advocates convened in Olympia last week, meeting with lawmakers to share the credit union impact story.

Washington’s Credit Union advocates gathered together in Olympia for last week’s Credit Union Day at the Capitol. More than 250 advocates enthusiastically shared positive credit union news with elected officials. Bellingham, Washington-based WECU, Vancouver-based iQ Credit Union, and Longview-based Fibre Federal Credit Union all brought large delegations of 18 or more advocates.

At WECU, advocacy is part of the culture, according to Reid Frederick, Director, Community Impact.

“It starts with leadership,” Frederick said. “Our President and CEO, Jennifer Kutcher, cares deeply about not-for-profit credit unions. As such, we introduce advocacy during new employee onboarding and our employee-driven committee works hard to promote the credit union model day in and day out.”

Before they fanned out to put that culture to the test in their legislative meetings, advocates got some sage advice from State Representative Larry Hoff (R-Vancouver). Hoff is the former President and CEO of Fibre FCU. Having been on both sides of advocacy conversations, he encouraged advocates to stay in touch with their representatives, during session, and throughout the year in their home districts.

“The gauge of your effectiveness will be directly proportional to the relationships you build,” Hoff said.

More than 4.3 million of those legislators’ constituents are members of a Washington credit union. In his address to advocates, NWCUA President and CEO, Troy Stang, noted the trust those members have in their credit union to help them build brighter financial futures.

In addition to telling stories of their own credit unions’ services to members, advocates had powerful new collective data to share with legislators. The first-ever Credit Union Community Impact report was released by NWCUA at the event. The Association’s Community Impact Reporting Tool (CIRT) was the data collection portal for all credit unions in the Evergreen state.

“It’s the first tracking tool of its kind in the Credit Union Movement,” said Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer. “Overall, it tracks your team’s volunteerism, community giving, special lending, and more. CIRT takes the data and couples it with real member stories to make an impact with legislators.”

The collective stories CIRT tells send strong messages about how credit unions are improving people’s lives, said Joe Adamack, Vice President of Legislative Affairs for Washington.

“Financial education, and how it helps consumers of all ages budget, save, and prepare for their financial future, is critically important to share with our legislators,” he said. “The data showing that credit unions personally educated nearly 100,000 consumers, and that more than $45 million has been saved in children’s accounts, is something legislators appreciate knowing.”

Richard Gose, Chief Political Officer with the Credit Union National Association, echoed the importance of sharing such information with legislators. 

“We are focused on showing the Credit Union Difference, not just through the members but through the community,” Gose said.

When the legislative meetings ended, advocates gathered for an impressive photo in the beautiful capitol rotunda.

They were joined by another special guest – Senator Mona Das (D-Kent). Senator Das noted the critical role that credit unions play in helping individuals build generational wealth through homeownership and financial education.

“It was a very special day, and we appreciate having so many well-informed advocates come to Olympia to tell the credit union story,” Adamack said. “We were especially impressed with the amount of first-time attendees and will continue sharing the credit union stories and mission with elected officials, every day.”