The Advocate - Legislative Update
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 1:00 PM

ROAR'ing for Chapters

Political involvement continues to be a focus for Cornerstone Credit Union League chapters and credit unions. While Congress is in session, this is the best time to rally advocates for the credit union movement and our "Don't Tax" campaign.

The East Texas Chapter recently hosted Cornerstone EVP and Chief Advocacy Officer Tom Haider, who provided an update on key legislative issues and the national "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign. Haider stressed the importance of political involvement for credit union professionals and urged attendees to sign up for CU: ROAR, Cornerstone's very successful grassroots program, to develop in-house advocacy committees. The meeting ended with a "Don't Tax My Credit Union" banner raffled off to one lucky credit union.

In Dallas, Employees Credit Union made political engagement the focus of their recent all-staff training session. Cornerstone's VP of Advocacy Jim Phelps conducted a presentation on the CU: ROAR program and the impact of taxation on credit unions. Employees CU is already active in the "Don't Tax" campaign and is among the first 50 credit unions to have ordered a "Don't Tax" banner for their lobby.

To get your banner, contact Jim Phelps at jphelps@cornerstoneleague.coop.

Employees CU and Friends

L to R: Debbie Martin, LeTourneau FCU; Kay Stewart, Northeast Texas FCU; Greg Jeffery, Chapter VP, East Texas Professional CU; Jim Phelps, Cornerstone VP Advocacy; Linda Daily, T&P FCU; Lawanda Drennon, Sweetex CU; Michelle Muckleroy, Chapter President, East Texas Professional CU; Tom Haider, Cornerstone EVP and Chief Advocacy Officer.

 

Please Welcome April Mobley

April MobleyWe're pleased to announce that April Mobley has joined Cornerstone's Advocacy team as the new political and grassroots director. April brings several years' experience working with credit unions, first at Cornerstone (when it was Texas Credit Union League) and then as operations manager at a credit union. She will be based in Dallas but will spend much of her time in the field working with credit unions and chapters to coordinate political engagement activities.

It's How You Say It

Cornerstone credit unions have done an outstanding job mobilizing for action as we work to protect the federal credit union tax exemption. Over 80,000 letters, emails, and tweets—a whopping number!—have been sent to members of Congress from the tri-state region just in the last six months. We know we're making an impact, because we hear the feedback. And we want our impact to be viewed in a positive manner so that more doors will open, allowing us to walk right in and plead our case to those who would make the decisions that affect all credit unions.

Credit unions have a reputation of wearing the "white hat" in the financial services sector. But in particularly long campaign cycles, we can sometimes get impatient and frustrated, and it's possible to take a more aggressive tone or use harsher words in communications to lawmakers than we may realize. That can only hurt our cause, and we never want to jump one step forward in a hard-fought campaign only to fall two steps back. That's ground much harder to make up.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when drafting your communications: 

  • If you're frustrated, take a deep breath and reflect on not only the message you want to send, but how you want it to be received and what sort of mileage you want it to get.
  • Try to give constructive feedback in a positive way. This is your opportunity to be a breath of fresh air for someone who gets nasty letters all the time. Your well-thought communication should explain how legislation or unintended consequences may impact you negatively, while reminding a legislator why supporting credit unions is a good thing.
  • Request the legislator's support for continuing the credit union tax exemption (or the topic of your communique, if other), but never threaten, insult, or demand.
  • If your lawmakers have been credit union supporters in the past, thank them for their support.
  • Because lawmakers get a lot of correspondence on many issues, brevity and clarity of purpose are always appreciated. No need to write a long letter or email. Simply ask for their support and assistance on your issue, then close.

With so much rancor and discontent in DC these days, credit unions are well served by sticking to the values of people helping people, and letting our "white hat" be reflected in our communications. Contributing to the good reputation that credit unions enjoy now will only advance our advocacy efforts and allow us to open those heavy congressional doors, right about Session Time.

Advocacy Guidebook

If you've ever felt like a fish out of water when it comes to advocacy—what it is, what it isn't, and how to do it well enough to leave a lasting impression wherever you go—you're not alone. Advocacy sometimes looks easier than it is, and your Cornerstone Advocacy team understands that. So we're compiling a short, spiral-bound guidebook specifically for the credit union advocacy professional.

You'll be able to use this booklet as a quick-and-easy "how to" or reference guide, or even to train others to join you in your grassroots mission. No need for a lot of trial and error that leaves you red-faced as you look for the nearest exit. The basics of what you need to know in advocacy are tucked inside—simple and straightforward, the way advocacy was meant to be.

Some of the things you'll find inside:

  • The Path to Political Engagement
  • How Laws Are Made
  • Preparing to Meet Your Lawmaker
  • How to Conduct Legislative Meetings
  • Cultivating Strong Relationships
  • Grassroots Advocacy Tools and CU:ROAR
  • Writing to Lawmakers and Regulators
  • Supporting the PAC
  • The Language of Advocacy

The advocacy guidebook will be available in December. Watch for more information in the coming weeks about how you can get your copy.