3 Things Every Credit Union NEEDS to do to Influence Legislators

To help credit unions make the most of their time in front of lawmakers – both national and local – we’re providing a three-pronged attack for political persuasion, as well as a 60-page resource of articles and insight from Chip Filson.


CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference spurs legislative fervor reminiscent of spring break fever. Everybody who plans on going spends weeks buffing up on industry chatter to impress peers and working on the best lines to curry favor among lawmakers.  And like spring break, when GAC season is over credit unions return their focus to business as usual.

It shouldn’t be this way. The same knowledge and initiatives that make legislative efforts successful at the national level also make efforts successful at local and state levels. For this reason, we’ve developed a three-pronged attack for making the most of your time in front of lawmakers, whether in DC, Des Moines, or Diggins (MO).

  1. Know your story, and TELL it. Can you tell your story in 30 seconds or less? If not, then break out the old elevator pitch and freshen it up. Callahan has made it a top priority this year to encourage credit unions to extol their virtue by sharing personal, explicit examples of the difference they make in their communities. We even put the theme – It’s not about what makes us different; it’s about the difference we make – on the cover of our 2010 Credit Union Directory. Call it the Tipping Point. Call it good PR. People are talking about credit unions. Now is the time to identify a handful of examples – like Community First’s Seth and Lindsey Gregory – you can draw on when talking with your Congressmen and women; trust me, how you are helping voters matters to them.
  2. Know what you want, and don’t be afraid to ASK for it. Credit unions are a strong force in today’s financial market. Part of this power comes from the counter-cyclical nature of our industry: When other sources fail to provide credit, we rise to the task. It’s why the cooperative charter is tax exempt. And it’s why the industry has earned the opportunity to increase its member business lending and explore alternative capital.  These avenues might not be right for every credit union, but if it is right for yours, then explain to your legislators how the industry is fueling the recovery and how these measures will dramatically expand the capacity of credit unions to make an impact on local economies. Before you visit the Hill, stop by Callahan & Associates’ Exhibit Hall booth (528). We’ll pull your state’s data and give you the tools you need to help your Congressmen and women connect the dots between financially thriving districts and re-election. 
  3. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Then look for ways to collaborate some more. The credit union philosophy of “business” has weathered this most recent financial fiasco because it is based on a cooperative system. The individual credit unions that comprise the system collaborate with and support one another, all the while working toward a common goal. The whole point of the GAC is to bring together legislative, political, and credit union leaders to forge effective regulation that addresses pressing member needs and public priorities. The conference is the ideal backdrop and provides ample venues to connect with your peers.  While browsing the Exhibit Hall, stop by our Credit Union Student Choice (524) and Callahan/CUFSLP (528) booths to see “best of” examples of CUSOs in action, then come see us about emerging collaborative opportunities. 

Knowing what to do is only half the battle. Action without substance rarely provides desirable results. For more about the context behind industry events – and why you should be asking the tough questions – refer to Callahan President Chip Filson. Chip's commentary, analysis, and insight reminds us how we got where we are and shows us where we should strive to be. His 30+ years of credit union experience affords him a far-reaching view (matched only by the view from his office at Callahan’s DC headquarters). Chip’s following articles shine a light on the national policy issues we face today. Read them online or download a printer-friendly PDF packet and read them on the road.

Why NCUA’s First Step Makes Sense – Feb 2, 2009

By Another Road – Feb 2, 2009

The Next Steps in the Process – Mar 2, 2009

Interview with Filson: NCUA Conservatorship & its Impact on Credit Unions – Mar 23, 2009

Timeless Wisdom in a Timely Moment: We Don't Run Credit Unions – Mar 23, 2009

Letter to NCUA re: the Math on the $9 Billion Credit Loss Estimate – Mar 23, 2009

Press Statement on NCUA Conservatorship Action – Mar 30, 2009

HR 1106: A White Elephant? – Apr 13, 2009

NCUA Uses PIMCO to Implement New Accounting Practice: Mark-to-Model – Apr 27, 2009

In Condemning WesCorp, Is NCUA also Indicting Itself? – May 11, 2009

Forget TARP, TALF and Government Aid: Credit Unions Can Fix Their Own Problems! – June 8, 2009

Now It’s Your Turn – Aug 3, 2010

Go Tell It On the Mountain – Aug 3, 2009

The Opportunities at the Change of NCUA Leadership – Aug 10, 2009

The Next Shoe Falls: CLF Becomes the Latest Humpty Dumpty – Aug 17, 2009

Preparing for Constructive Town Hall Meetings with NCUA – Sep 7, 2009

Time for the NCUA Board to Ask for Some Real Numbers and Undertake a Policy Review – Sept 28, 2009

Alternative Capital is Not the Solution – Oct 12, 2009

A Nobel Prize in Economics Provides Timely Insight for Credit Unions – Oct 19, 2009

Managing the Legacy (Not Just the Present) at NCUA – Oct 26, 2009

When Does Share Insurance Cease to be Insurance? Dec 14, 2009

Why NCUA’s Silencing of WesCorp was a Terrible Mistake and How to Correct it – Jan 18, 2010

NCUA’s Missing 2008 Annual Report: A Case for Sherlock Holmes or a Court? – Jan 25, 2010

Where are NCUA’s “Honest Numbers"? – Feb 1, 2010

Who Regulates the Regulator? – Feb 8, 2010