2020 was certainly not an easy year. But years like that—where our members are at financial risk and our communities are struggling—are when the credit union mission and model shine. Not only did credit unions provide outstanding service to members in one of the toughest years on record, but credit unions, Leagues and CUNA achieved landmark advocacy win that will help us continue to be there for members in good times and bad.
Together, we were able to prevent for-profit banks from expanding onto military bases. We defeated the bankers’ attack on the NCUA’s field of membership rule. We eliminated the Regulation D transfer limit, delayed the mortgage refinance fee, and saw a landmark rule finalized allowing us to raise supplemental capital. To help members throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we ensured that credit unions had the policy tools they needed to work with their members, modify loans, and participate in the paycheck protection program.
None of these would be possible without advocacy at every level of the credit union movement reinforcing the need for these solutions and proving firsthand how we improve the financial well-being of the 120 million people who rely on credit unions every day.
After a year like 2020, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to relax this year, but advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint.
There is a new administration in Washington who needs to be reminded why we’re different than other financial service providers. There are 67 new members of Congress who may not understand what it means to “promote thrift and provide access to credit for provident purposes.” And there are countless new congressional and White House staffers who may not know that credit unions are not-for-profit, putting our members’ needs before the financial bottom line.
In state capitals across the nation, the story is the same with new governors and legislators who have the added burden of finding new ways to raise state and local revenue after their budgets have been hollowed out. It will take strong, constant advocacy to remind lawmakers the value credit unions provide is returned to their state several times over through our ability to offer lower fees, better products, and higher return on savings to their constituents.
To continue our success and remain in a position to serve members, we need everyone engaged in our advocacy efforts. One of the best ways to start is by joining me and your fellow credit union advocates at CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in March, and then remaining active with your League to deliver 360-degree advocacy all year long.
As a movement, we are stronger together. But we too easily forget the power in that statement; each individual person in our movement is an asset, and when we come together—credit unions, Leagues, and CUNA—to tell our story and call for change, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.