Get Behind Candidates Who Support the Credit Union Mission
"I've made phone calls, licked stamps, built and delivered signs, walked precincts, you name it."
Those are just a few grassroots activities Sue Longson, president of $55 million asset SONEPCO Federal Credit Union in Las Vegas , takes part in on behalf of candidates who support credit unions.
"It's important for all credit union people to become involved because it's the future of the credit union movement," she says. "What we work on now will affect generations to come. As credit unions, we're still operating under provisions passed in the 1930s and amended in 1998."
But laws can live forever if they aren't reviewed. "We must work together to ensure the laws enable a framework in which credit unions can thrive," Longson says.
When elections approach, credit union people like Longson support candidates who understand the nature of credit unions' mission and consider the impact of their actions on credit unions.
To create an effective political involvement action plan for your credit union, consider the following nine steps, developed by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) .
1. Join the Political and Legislative Action Network. Obtain your board's pledge to complete these nine steps. Incorporate the importance of political activity into the CEO's job description and/or your credit union's business plan.
2. Promote the unique mission of credit unions. Use media opportunities, newsletters, statement stuffers, websites, and advertising to promote your credit union's activities to members and to the public.
3. Demonstrate your commitment through “Project Differentiation.” Complete a statement of commitment to members and share it with public policy-makers.
4. Participate in “Project Zip Code.”
Match your credit union members with state and federal legislative districts through CUNA and the league's district-matching program. Share the results with elected officials.
5. Develop partisan and issue-oriented communications. Use your newsletter to inform members about candidates who support credit unions. It's also the time to inform members about political, legislative, and regulatory issues that are important to credit unions.
6. Embrace political action. Sign a permission to solicit agreement and take part in your league's political fund-raising activities. Set a fund-raising goal for your credit union.
7. Commit to political involvement. Get involved in league-coordinated political activities or in the campaign of your choice. Take part in “ Campaign School ,” offered through your league and CUNA. Conduct a voter registration and/or “Get Out the Vote”campaign in your credit union.
8. Choose grassroots activities. Participate in legislative and regulatory visits at home and in Washington , D.C. , through “Hike the Hill” and other league programs. Serve as a key contact for a policy-maker from your area. Invite lawmakers to visit your credit union. Participate in community activities by hosting community groups in your credit union. Use CUNA's “Operation Comment” and other means to provide input on important issues to policy-makers. Write letters to the editor to inform the public about issues. And volunteer to be part of a speaker's bureau to discuss credit union issues in which you are well versed.
9. Become more involved. Keep up to date on political, legislative, and regulatory issues and use that information to take part in grassroots lobbying and regulatory efforts.
This story first appeared at www.creditunionmagazine.com and is reprinted with permission.
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