When Northwest Advocates Talk, Policy Makers Listen – Even in a Virtual World

It’s a beloved and important tradition every spring: Thousands of credit union advocates from every state in the union flock to Washington, D.C., to meet with their U.S. representatives. Well prepared to tell the credit union story, they make the most of their meetings with senators, congressional representatives, or key staff. And as a result of their grassroots advocacy, credit union priorities advance.

This year was no different in terms of spot-on messaging that grabbed policy makers’ attention. The only difference was shoe leather. No one wore any out, because for the first time in history, the meetings were virtual.

“The pandemic may have imposed limitations on travel and in-person meetings, but, if anything, it created the opportunity for more advocates to engage,” said Samantha Beeler, NWCUA’s Vice President, Advocacy.

The 270 Northwest advocates who joined NWCUA were armed not only with member stories, but with new data documenting credit unions’ services to members. Strong headlines emerged about credit unions’ extraordinary services to help members cope with the impact of COVID-19.

Advocates told lawmakers about PPP loans — right down to the penny — and flexibilities, such as loan modifications and millions in waived fees. It resonated.

And they shared a big, new headline: with membership growth, the majority of Northwest consumers – 8 million people – have now chosen credit unions as their preferred financial services partners. Those members are elected officials’ constituents.

“We had excellent and productive meetings with our delegation of elected officials,” Beeler said. “As we outlined the legislation that is important to credit unions, and their members, many of the leaders we met with shared their interest in helping to champion our asks in the 117th Congress.”

Northwest credit union advocates should continue to message their representatives, whose teams closely monitor phone calls, emails, and social media posts that tag them, Beeler noted. Stories about individual credit unions’ members, backed by data, help to move the policy needle.

Editor’s note: The NWCUA advocacy team is pleased to provide training, message points, and tips for effective advocacy. Reach out to Jordan Beyer, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy, for information on a customized plan for your team. Email jbeyer@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News.