When the people of the credit union movement stand together, we are most effective. Issues concerning us, our choice to be members of the nation’s credit unions and the unique structure of our chosen financial institutions are a rallying point for a grassroots effort that has historically been one of the most impactful groups in our country.
When our people stand together, we lead with a loud voice, and we can change the world. Rallying those voices within the credit union movement is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. But exactly how does that happen? It is relatively simple and well worth the effort.
Credit unions employees, and their members share a common bond. We call it ownership. When people are educated regarding the credit union difference, they understand that they own something. Ownership fosters a strong desire to protect and preserve. From there, it is a natural progression to engage in grassroots advocacy. The league’s efforts to train and engage advocates can pay off because when we have an issue to support or fight against, their passion drives action.
Advocates can and should be everyone in a credit union, from young professionals, to front-facing employees, all the way up to the board, and executive leadership. No one group of employees can drive engagement – again, it’s an ownership question. When we train advocates at our credit unions, we want to focus on the entire employee base, because their passion will mobilize them.
So how do leagues train grassroots advocates? It starts with understanding what it truly means. Making a heart connection helps illustrate the very definition of the words grassroots advocate. Simple questions about their children and families are very effective. When employees think about the people they care most about – their families – their inner advocate rises up. People would do just about anything to ensure and protect their children’s safety, education, activities and so on – it’s a similar picture to paint for advocacy. Ownership. When someone understands they have ownership, they tend to invest in something one hundred times over.
In training advocates, once they grasp the ownership piece, the rest can fall in place fairly easy. Defining the process of what an advocacy program is, and the very definition of power to display the size of our movement, helps paint the picture of how we as owners have the right to speak out, stand up and defend our movement. It’s very empowering.
Grassroots advocacy programs and engaged credit union employees and members are our most effective means to educate, communicate & mobilize our power to shape public policy. With a proactive and aggressive grassroots advocacy program, we will be more effective in the legislative & political arena. Effective programs illustrate membership by congressional district and use data to help impact legislative relationships.
To be most effective, any grassroots program needs buy in from the top. Management at the credit union needs to take ownership and have a belief in the credit union movement. This allows key personnel to be point persons within credit unions and help communicate action items, relay information and help mobilize when needed. Our people are our power. Training and engaging them is critical to the success and growth of our movement.
The Mountain West Credit Union Association is a proud partner of the AACUL League System engaging best practices and collaboration between state and regional credit union leagues and associations.