Fall is often a time of reflection. Shorter days and cooler weather have long been tied to the idea of slowing down and looking back on the year thus far. It’s a natural time to start counting successes, evaluating missteps, and starting to plan for the new year. And for many of us, it’s that most wonderful time of the year: budget and planning season.
While budgets in the credit union world are usually focused on finding the balance between revenue, expenses, and member service, there are a few other priorities that credit unions should underscore in their 2024 planning, specifically Communication and Advocacy.
Communication is key no matter where you go. There is the obvious need for marketing and storytelling to attract new members and retain old ones, but there is also a need for collecting stories and statistics on a broader scale. When major issues arise such as natural disasters or the threat of a government shutdown, credit unions rally around their communities offering vital aid in critical times. This is part of the DNA of credit unions across the Nation. Yet, without collecting these stories and sharing them externally, the opportunity to show why credit unions are the better choice becomes lost in the myriad of headlines focused on the conflict and loss. We, as an industry, have an incredible opportunity awaiting us to share our stories, especially with those that have broader audiences.
Advocacy goes hand in hand with communication. Focusing on the “mission” and assuming the rest will fall into place is no longer sufficient. The financial world has changed and continues to evolve, and credit unions have an uphill battle to show that they can succeed in a system that is technology-focused rather than people-first. Every credit union must remain committed to advocating for itself while still communicating the credit union difference to the larger financial world. One voice, no matter how strong it is, can never replace 4,000+ voices in sharing the dedication to community and service that all credit unions represent. DCUC has always understood the difference credit unions offer to the financial lives of the members they serve and is just as committed to helping the industry carry an impactful voice.
Here at DCUC, we are in the thick of wrapping up our 60th anniversary and planning for an exciting and busy 61st. As we set our focus and goals for the new year, communication and advocacy are at the forefront. We take our job as the voice for credit unions serving the military and veterans seriously, but we know we can’t do it alone. We rely on our members to share their stories and statistics with us so that we can share real-time information on the Hill, at the Pentagon, the VA, NCUA, and beyond. And we know the strongest voices are those of our members who face the challenges of serving this unique population every day.
Credit unions are excellent at knowing what their communities need and, in turn, creating products and services that help their members grow and thrive. Yet, if we are truly going to move the needle and convince a larger portion of our nation to bank with us, we need to get serious about collecting and sharing our success stories and then using them as the backbone of our advocacy. Credit unions have a vital role to play in the financial well-being of our nation. Let’s make 2024 the year where we get loud on the credit union difference so no one can overlook us.