Educate, Then Advocate

'Sometimes we think the banks are our enemy, but our real enemy is ignorance.'

February 25, 2013
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Legislative Update

Credit union advocacy depends on education first, according to CUNA’s advocacy staff.

Explaining the value of credit unions to members, advocates, and legislators leads to political success for the movement, panelists told General Session attendees Monday afternoon.
Legislators need education about the value to their constituents, credit union advocates need to know the message to bring to their representatives, and members need to know why grassroots advocacy matters.
“Sometimes we think the banks are our enemy, but our real enemy is ignorance,” said Pat Sowick, senior vice president, league and state affairs.
Advocacy at the state level was a major focus of this year’s legislative and political update. It’s important to build relationships from the ground up, said Sowick, noting  that many politicians and pieces of legislation begin in state politics.
Keeping members informed about legislative priorities and how they affect the credit union is also key, according to Richard Gose, senior vice president, political affairs. The advocacy power of credit unions is not in dollars, but grassroots potential, he said.
“Education is always appropriate,” Gose said. “You can’t call on members and ask them to do something if they’re not aware.”
When it comes to approaching congressional representatives, keep in mind many of them are new and don’t have a lot of detailed knowledge of the credit union movement, said Ryan Donovan, senior vice president, legislative affairs. 
After successfully defeating the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) bill—a major priority of the bank lobby last year—the credit union movement has the attention of legislators, he said.
“They still love us on the Hill, but something changed late last year. They realized we’re not pushovers anymore,” Donovan said.
The conference’s annual advocacy primer allows credit union leaders to get on the same page before planned Capitol Hill visits later in the week, according to moderator Paul Gentile, executive vice president, strategic communications and engagement.
“We don’t want to have 7,000 different voices; we want to have one story repeated 7,000 times,” said Gentile.
This year’s advocacy agenda is based on three pillars: preserving credit unions’ tax status, reducing the regulatory burden, and enhancing the credit union charter.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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