As leaders in the credit union industry, we are uniquely qualified to champion the interests of our members and shape the future of our industry. While each of our institutions serves different communities and memberships, we are all committed to the success of our industry and to providing our members with safe, secure, reliable and affordable financial products and services.
Credit unions are known for their “people helping people” philosophy and for putting the needs of members over profits. Our dedication to upholding this philosophy in all that we do is why our industry has grown by more than five million members over the past year.
However, our ability to continue serving our members—and expand into communities that have been left behind by banks—hinges on the laws and regulations we must operate under. What happens in Washington shapes the landscape of the financial services industry. I know many of you will be joining me in Washington D.C. for NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus, but there are many other opportunities to get involved with NAFCU’s advocacy efforts.
Building relationships directly with lawmakers—at the local, state, and federal levels—is critical. As elected officials, they prioritize the needs of their constituents first, just as you prioritize the needs of your members. Visiting their local offices, or even their offices on Capitol Hill, is an extremely powerful way to put a face to the issues they’re working on. But NAFCU also has an online Grassroots Action Center that allows you to express your support or opposition on a variety of credit union related policies, in just a few clicks. You can also share your own personalized statement with NAFCU that can be amplified by the association in conversations with the press and through public outreach to raise awareness.
Getting involved with advocacy efforts is key to helping the industry grow. We’ve entrusted NAFCU with our voice in Washington and they execute the job exceptionally well. However, there’s no denying that the association’s efforts are even more impactful when we remain a united voice behind them. We know the needs of our credit union and our members better than anyone. Our collective partnership in advocacy allows us to bring our knowledge, experience, and passion to the forefront, enabling us to shape policies that align with the unique needs of credit unions and the communities we serve.
Grassroots advocacy is not a one-time endeavor, and there are a variety of important issues that require our input. I encourage you to get involved and actively participate in NAFCU’s advocacy efforts. We have a compelling story to tell—one that showcases how credit unions empower individuals, drive economic growth and help Main Streets thrive and promote financial inclusivity. Together, we can convey the massive impact credit unions have on the lives of our 137 million members.
Gary Grinnell is president and CEO of Corning Credit Union in Corning, NY.