CUs Must Push To Reach Out To More Politicians, Consumers

The theme of our 2013 Annual Meeting and Convention-being held this week in San Francisco-is REACH. It's an appropriate theme as both California and Nevada, and the entire nation, continues on the road to economic recovery. Now that we're mostly out of the trenches, credit unions have an opportunity to reach a new level.

Now is the time for us to reach deep into our credit union roots-our philosophy-and serve ever more consumers-those who have grown dissatisfied with banks and dealing with market uncertainties. And opportunities are everywhere. Just one example is that in California, the legislature just passed, and the governor signed into law, a bill requiring financial education to be taught in our schools. The bad news is the new law is quite vague. And the good news is that the law is quite vague! This gives credit unions the opportunity to help formulate the implementation. What a great opportunity to show off our "People Helping People" philosophy.

A Long History Of Outreach

Credit unions have a long history of reaching out to engage their members. Our current national Don't Tax My Credit Union campaign is a prime example of this. And I'm proud to report that California and Nevada lead the nation in the number of contacts to Congressional leaders. Of the more than 1 million letters that have been sent to Congress nationwide, 225,000 are from our two states.

It's our goal as the leagues for our two states to reach for new opportunities to help our credit unions better serve their members. One way is through the enhanced use of social media. One of the keynote speakers at our Annual Meeting and Convention is Teddy Goff, the former digital director of the Obama for America 2012 campaign. Goff was the driving force behind the Obama campaign's social media and digital marketing initiatives that generated more than 133 million video views, gained 45 million and 33 million Facebook and Twitter followers, respectively, and registered more than a million voters online. People like Goff can help us to find our own voice in this new world.

Looking forward, credit unions need to reach up as a national system to create new solutions for consumers. Because of our size and structure, credit unions have always been nimble, creative, and cooperative. We can take advantage of that dexterity and collaboration to develop our next breakthrough. Let's not forget that it was credit unions that first created direct deposit-something all financial institutions take advantage of today. As we navigate through the changing economic landscape brought about through the financial crisis, I'm certain credit unions have the ability to work together to continue to make a difference for American consumers.

In all we do at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, we strive to reach for our ultimate goal of helping credit unions improve people's lives.


Diana Dykstra is the president and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.