Credit unions exist today because of credit union pioneers and visionaries like Alphonse Desjardins, Edward Filene, Roy Bergengren and Nebraska’s Claude Orchard. These important pioneers and many others who realized the need for cooperative financial institutions paved the way for today’s credit unions. All of that being said, credit unions would not exist today if the Founders of credit unions did not seek and procure both state and federal legislation allowing for the creation of credit unions across this great Country. The Federal Credit Union Act of 1934 was passed because those who came before us had a vision and executed grassroots efforts to fulfill that vision. Simply put, political and legislative advocacy has been a top priority for America’s credit unions since their inception in the 1930’s.
Credit unions have come a long way since 1934 both in the service that they provide to their members and in the power that they wield on Capitol Hill and in State Capitols across the Country. This was not an accident. It is a result of dedicated credit union advocates who have endured to see credit unions not simply exist but thrive nationwide. They understood well that to best serve credit union members, they must involve themselves in the political and legislative arenas. Imagine what the Founding Fathers of credit unions would say today with more than 100 million members, a political action committee that ranks in the top 10 nationwide, and the adherence to the fundamental structure of credit unions over nearly a century’s time. It is incumbent upon those of us today who now carry the torch of credit unions to not only do our part in protecting what we have been given by previous advocates but in advancing further the position of credit unions and their members.
Each of us who have a stake in a thriving credit union movement must do our part to ensure that future generations have a strong credit union system. How do we accomplish that? Just as those who came before us did with hard work, dedication to the founding principles of credit unions, putting members first, and advocating for advancements in the credit union system through political, legislative, and regulatory means.
The future of credit unions resides in credit union members and the ability of credit unions to serve them. Our advocacy efforts are critical and will continue to be as long as governments and their agencies create rules and laws that inhibit or expand that ability to serve members. We will either pick up the torch and run with it or we will leave it to someone else in hopes that they will carry it the distance. Let’s choose to pick up the torch and do our part. Let’s leave this credit union movement that we love so dearly better off than we found it. Let’s advocate for the future of credit unions and not accept stagnation. Get involved today, join the Capitol Club and be the future of credit unions. Learn how you can help by clicking on the Capitol Club brochure.