This fall has proven to be a very busy and successful season for our advocacy efforts at the League. The return of in-person advocacy events continues to grow in both participation and effectiveness. Active engagement can be intimidating to some, but as our recent efforts have proven, even the smallest involvement can make a big difference!
Many of us will remember the popular GEICO commercials that featured the tagline, “So easy a caveman can do it.” Meaningful advocacy engagements are no different. Every single person in the credit union movement can do something to make a big impact.
This difference was on full display earlier this fall when the League facilitated its Hike the Hill program and met with Maine’s congressional delegation. Those interactions culminated in having Senators Collins and King join on as cosponsors of the Credit Union Board Modernization bill in the Senate. A companion bill has already been approved by the House of Representatives, with the support of both Representatives Pingree and Golden. Adoption of this legislation would grant credit union boards greater flexibility and control of their required board meetings. The visit to Washington, DC, certainly helped in securing these important endorsements from Senators Collins and King.
Just this week, interim League President Cris Wescott and I traveled to Maryland to meet with leadership from the NCUA Eastern Region, along with several other League partners. Prior to attending the meeting, the League solicited feedback from our member credit unions to determine what messages we should deliver at the meeting with NCUA. Thanks to a credit union Town Hall and a joint meeting of the League’s Compliance and Governmental Affairs committees, Cris and I were well prepared to listen and advocate for Maine’s credit unions. Thank you to everyone who submitted feedback.
Additionally, League staff coordinated a Young Professionals Network (YPN) event on Thursday at the State House in Augusta. The YPN event featured State Treasurer Henry Beck, a legislative panel, and members from the Bureau of Financial Institutions, along with an advocacy training exercise lead by the Governmental Affairs team. All of this was complemented by a walking tour of the Blaine House and State House.
It was the culmination of these recent events that inspired me to share this message with you. Our movement is special and unique. The difference Maine credit unions make in their members’ lives and in communities across the state is tremendous. But we all know that challenges lie ahead for our movement. The tightening of liquidity, increasing regulatory pressures, and the added public scrutiny on fee income are just a small sample of the issues our industry is facing. While the League serves as your spokesperson and advocate, we simply are not you. It is your stories and your members’ stories that represent the silver bullet to our advocacy success. The simple act of providing real world examples with the League makes a big difference.
Advocacy should not be scary or intimidating. The League’s Governmental Affairs team is comprised of seasoned professionals and we love to partner with credit unions. Whether it is simply listening and troubleshooting a challenge that needs resolution, introducing credit union staff to elected officials, or assisting in drafting legislative testimony, we stand ready to help. While we would like everyone to participate at our events and meetings, we know it isn’t for everyone. But just because you may not want to engage in direct advocacy efforts, know that simply having a conversation with the League sometimes is all that needs to be done.
Credit union advocacy—so easy anyone can do it!