Between your League and the Credit Union National Association, credit unions in Kentucky have professional lobbyists watching out for credit unions day-in and day-out in Frankfort and Washington.
However, the most important voice to an elected official is you, the constituent. Legislators pay attention to the people who are potentially voting for them, and that is why you - the grassroots activist - are so important. You can tell the story of your credit union better than anyone else, and we need you to build relationships with your lawmakers and to lobby in Frankfort and Washington.
Project Zip Code
Members = Constituents. Credit unions are asked twice a year to run a program called Project Zip Code that determines the number of members in each Congressional and State legislative districts. This program is a great tool to remind lawmakers that they have thousands of credit union constituents. The program also can be used for marketing purposes.
Download Project Zip Code from CUNA’s website.
Hike The Hill
Hike the Hill is a grassroots program sponsored by CUNA and the state leagues to provide credit unions with the opportunity to visit Washington to educate decision makers on credit union issues.
When credit unions participate in Hike the Hill, they demonstrate that credit union support has a real face, real concerns, and real stories of how credit unions affect the lives of working Americans.
Each year credit union advocates meet with Kentucky’s state lawmakers in Frankfort during the General Assembly session, which begins in January. Check with your Chapter for more details.
Credit Union Political Advocacy and Legislative Specialists (CU PALS)
The CU PALS program is designed to engage all levels of credit union representatives from Volunteers, to CEOs, to employees and even members. This “army” of credit union supporters will be dedicated to protecting the future of the credit union movement through legislative, political and grassroots advocacy. The program is designed to encourage each credit union to designate at least one person who will be responsible for governmental and legislative activities.
We can no longer afford to sit back and let others tell our story. Allowing the banking trade groups to define who we are is just not acceptable. Through the CU PALS program, we can open up new avenues to get our story told. Through activities such as hosting legislators at our credit union, volunteering on campaigns, raising money for candidates that support our issues, participating in letter writing campaigns, we can reach more and more of our elected officials.
We have members of Congress and State Legislators that need to be educated about credit unions, our structure and our mission. Although there are a number of ways for you to be involved, as discussed later in this manual, below are three very simple yet effective tools for political advocacy.
1. Vote – If you do not vote, your voice will not be heard. Educate yourself on who is running to represent you in both State and Federal legislatures. ”Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves – and the only way they could do that is by not voting.” -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
2. Get to Know Your Legislator – Building relationships with our elected officials is one of the most important components of grassroots lobbying. Look for opportunities to visit your legislator whether it’s in Frankfort, Washington, or in their home district. Personal contact can bring issues home to the officials and it gives them specific reasons to vote for or against proposed legislation.
3. Support Your Local Candidates – By demonstrating our interest in campaigns, we can make sure that candidates gain an appreciation of the political power of the credit union movement. Even if you candidate loses the race, you still have won because you were involved in the process. We must be seen as an active, viable and important constituency.
Attend CUNA's GAC
Advocate for America's credit unions
Unite with thousands of credit union leaders at the year's biggest credit union advocacy event: CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. CUNA GAC brings together advocates on behalf of America's credit unions and our more than 100 million members. We'll represent all 50 states at our GAC Hill Hikes, meeting face-to-face with representatives about important issues and show them our positive impact we make on their constituents' financial lives.
CUNA GAC unites the largest group of credit union advocates to:
- Engage with legislators and regulators on key issues
- Hear from world-class business and political speakers
- Discuss industry challenges and opportunities
- Network with progressive credit union leaders
- Learn about the latest tools and technology to improve member service