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Small Credit Unions Can Make a Huge Impact
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 6:45 AM

On May 13, Cornerstone Credit Union League Political and Grassroots Director April Krause visited Texas People Federal Credit Union, a $21.7 million credit union, at the request of their new CEO Andy Reed. As part of an overall strategy to energize his eight-member staff, Reed felt that Advocacy 101 Training would help deepen their understanding of the importance of political engagement. 

Krause, a credit union advocacy specialist, couldn't agree more. “Advocacy is a process, not an event,” she said. "A number of significant parts make a well-oiled advocacy machine work optimally, and understanding how they all work together is key. This is where Advocacy 101 can improve grassroots and advocacy efforts across the boards."

With the onslaught of new regulations for financial institutions, data breach concerns, and the ongoing tax debate in Washington DC, it is always a good idea to find ways to advocate for credit unions. Reed already has several strategies in place that he's begun implementing.

Lending Supervisor Terry Hix said, “Andy talks to us regarding ‘calls to action’ and explains their importance so that we can send emails to our representatives.”

Member Service Supervisor Ana Rodriguez also praised her CEO. “Andy does a great job communicating why we are being asked to advocate," she said, "and that explanation helps us understand why contributing to TCCUL PAC is important.” 

Reed's views on the essential nature of staff engagement are the cornerstones of his advocacy strategy, and he seems to have their full support. Indeed, they are getting involved.

During the training, the suggested minimum contribution to TCCUL PAC through payroll deduction is $1.30 bi-weekly per employee paycheck, which amounts to less than the price of one candy bar. For a group of eight people, that would amount to approximately $250 per year.

“Contributing $250 a year for eight people is not asking much,” said Reed. Although that's the suggested minimum, Reed's group elected to make greater contributions.

“The minimum amount may not seem like enough to make a difference," Krause said, "but it certainly can. If every credit union employee in the Cornerstone region contributed $1 per week, the total contributions would be well over $1 million. That's an amount that can make an impact on our legislators. But we can't do it without everyone's participation."

"Credit unions large and small can take a political advocacy lesson from Texas People FCU," Krause said. "Regardless of your credit union’s size, being up to date on legislative issues and sharing how these issues affect your credit union will reap voluntary staff participation and the cooperative spirit that drives our movement. And that's what it's all about."