Community Service

Three Great Initiatives for CUs

These programs share the same goal: creating a stronger, long-lasting CU movement.

July 10, 2013
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This month’s cover story focuses on one of the most important— and largest— initiatives CUNA has ever undertaken: “Don’t Tax My Credit Union.”
 
It’s one of several underway now. Seemingly, “Don’t Tax” and the others—“Unite for Good” and “Plan to Win”—are separate and distinct. But a closer look shows how closely these initiatives work together.
 
They each share the same goal: Strengthen credit unions, improve their operating environment, and ensure a lasting future presence.
 
It’s a lot to manage. But our ability to successfully achieve these initiatives rests on their interaction.
 
“Don’t Tax My Credit Union” focuses on preserving the taxexempt status of credit unions. At press time, there’s no specific legislation in Congress that calls for removing or altering the tax exemption. But lawmakers are talking about reforming federal tax laws and taking a “blank sheet” approach. This means creating a new tax code that might—or might not—include provisions from existing rules.
 
If this approach takes hold, credit unions will be one of hundreds of groups (we estimate more than 400) likely facing a loss of their own tax preferences. And those groups just as likely will howl about losing their tax status.
 
Our challenge is to be heard— loud and clear. We want lawmakers to hear us before they decide winners and losers of tax status, regardless of whether they start with a blank sheet or just amend current tax law.
 
And with 96 million credit union members, our chance of howling loudest and longest is very good.
 
Our strategy is to engage those millions of members and urge them to tell Congress today, “Don’t tax my credit union!”
 
CUNA and the leagues have been preparing for this grassroots onslaught for years.
 
Since the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act (H.R. 1151) in 1998, we’ve learned that to successfully advance our issues with Congress we must develop as many Senate and House champions as possible. We accomplish this through a combination of stubborn contact and enlightened political action.
 
We’ve formalized this approach in the “Plan to Win” initiative, which aims to develop close contact with every member of Congress— a 535-seat strategy. When credit union members become more fully engaged in the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign, the spadework done through “Plan to Win” can potentially develop an explosion of contacts with Congress on this vital issue.
 
These efforts all serve our third initiative: “Unite for Good.”
 
That’s the rallying cry to instill a shared strategic vision for the credit union movement: “Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.”
 
To realize that vision, we’ve developed a “shared agenda” for credit unions that includes three goals:
 
1. Remove barriers;
 
2. Create awareness; and
 
3. Foster service excellence.
 
When we “unite for good,” we believe we can accomplish this agenda, and attain the vision.
 
A critical part of our agenda to “remove barriers” (those existing in statute or regulation that impede credit union service to more Americans) is taking advocacy action and political action. Our “Plan to Win” already outlines many actions, such as involvement in Project Zip Code, Hike the Hill outings, and commenting on proposed regulations.
 
If credit unions truly employ their muscle for “Don’t Tax My Credit Union”—toned by the body-building exercises of “Plan to Win”—we can realize the full-power potential of credit unions, and make great strides in other areas, too.
 
We’ll likely “remove barriers,” enhance the credit union charter, and establish credit unions as Americans’ best financial partner.
 
We’ll accomplish all of that while preserving our tax exemption and increasing our political effectiveness.
 
A lot to manage? Absolutely. Worth the effort? No question. Achievable? We believe so.
 
All of these initiatives work together to accomplish the same goal: A better, stronger, long-lasting credit union movement.

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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 (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) 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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