Creating change with your “and then” story

Jim Nussle onstage at #CUNAGAC 2020.

A couple, vying to start a family, couldn’t afford the in vitro fertilization therapy to start their family. A young parent, trying to find a new home for her and her child while leaving an abusive relationship, lacked the nest egg to put down first, last, and a deposit on an apartment. After six months of unemployment, a new college grad finally landed his first job, only to have his car totaled without the means for a large down payment.

These kinds of heartbreaking stories are unfortunately not that uncommon for employees at America’s credit unions. What is fortunate, though, is the “and then” moment that we often get to provide. These folks were facing a painful time in their life and then their credit union was there to help them build a stronger future.

They’re the type of stories that make you well up with tears as you see them on the local news. The couple worked out a loan with their credit union and then they had twins. The young parent reached out to her credit union and then was able to create a safe new start. The college grad worked with his credit union on a reasonable auto loan and then was able to show up for the first day of his new career.

We probably hear a dozen of these wonderful “and then” stories every week in our respective institutions. But what are we doing with them? Well, for one, they make fantastic earned media pieces on the local news, providing the feel-good messaging that makes others in our community want to become members. And they certainly help reinforce to our boards why we provide no- and low-interest loans that banks wouldn’t normally provide. But by taking this storytelling one step further, using these “and then” moments to remind lawmakers about the on-the-ground difference that credit unions provide, it will help our movement grow in ways unimaginable.

Every day, the Credit Union National Association is reinforcing that credit union difference to lawmakers by reminding them of the benefit that credit unions provide in advancing their communities. We reinforce that the $1.9 billion credit union tax benefit comes back ten-fold in overall economic benefit to consumers. We point out aspects like 1 million credit union auto loans last year, or that our collective $25 billion in corporate loans led to over 386,000 jobs.

But to paraphrase an old aphorism, $152 billion in mortgages is a statistic, but $300,000 is a family’s first home.

When I was in Congress, hearing national statistics helped put my votes in context, helping me understand the bigger picture. But it was hearing the individual cases—how a vote helped a member of my community to build their own stronger tomorrow—that helped me understand just how important my yes vote was.

What held for me then continues to hold true for lawmakers across Washington and in every state capital today. As these leaders face myriad demands for very limited resources, hearing just how meaningful that vote is for their community makes all the difference.

So this year, whether you’re in D.C. or in your state capital, as you advocate for policies that allow credit unions to serve folks in your community, don’t forget to tell some of the meaningful “and then” stories that your credit union has helped create.

Then you’ll be able to tell about the time you went to Washington and then Congress supported your credit union mission.

Jim Nussle

Jim Nussle

Jim is President and CEO of America's Credit Unions. Jim is a former nine-term congressman and director of the White House Office of Management and Budget for President George W. ... Web: Details