360-Degree Advocacy Leads to Solutions, CUNA’s Donovan Tells CU Advocates

WASHINGTON – The use of 360-degree advocacy is helping CUNA discover and act on solutions credit unions have sought for decades, said CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan Monday during an advocacy update at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).

“Our accomplishments over the last several years have been a direct result of a change in strategy that’s made us more fierce and bolder. We address issues from all angles," he said. "There are no more legislative issues, or regulatory issues, or state government issues or legal issues. There are only credit union issues for us. And when we look at issues from all angles, we start to see different ways to solve problems that we’ve been working on so long."

Donovan pointed to the nearly two-decade effort to increase the member business lending cap from 12.25% of assets, mostly by supporting a bill that would have raised the cap to 27.5%.

"But through two changes in policy, one from the NCUA and the other achieved through Congress, we actually restored credit union business lending authority to a rate higher than what we were seeking in legislation,” he said. “When you put the credit union in the middle and look at the issue as a credit union issue, it’s a lot easier to find those solutions, and that’s what we’re doing.

These efforts also include saturating policymakers with messages about the credit union difference, he added.

Donovan said a major goal of CUNA’s advocacy going forward is modernization of the Federal Credit Union Act, which includes what he described as six small changes and a big one.

The six small changes are:

  • Permit credit unions to establish their own fiscal year;
  • Eliminate the requirement to file certain information regarding loan officers;
  • Enhance the flexibility of federal credit unions to scheduled board meetings;
  • Remove outdated responsibilities of federal credit union boards of directors;
  • Allow the expulsion of disruptive members for just cause by the board or management; and
  • Permit electronic balloting for conversions from state to federal charter and from federal to state charter.

The bigger change would be to eliminate the 15-year maturity limit on federal credit union loans, allowing credit union to more fully engage and be more competitive in certain loan markets. CUNA wrote in support of a bill Monday that would allow NCUA to increase loan maturity limits. 

When it comes to getting these changes accomplished, which would require Congressional action, CUNA Chief Political Officer Richard Gose told the crowd about CUNA’s Member Activation Program, in which registered credit unions can use CUNA’s customizable materials to engage their members on behalf of credit union priorities.

More than 600 credit unions are currently signed up for MAP, and Gose said if all of those credit union went out to members, that alone would activate tens of millions of credit union members, which he said are the kind of numbers policymakers cannot ignore.