How credit unions can help heal a politically divided nation

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There has never been a better time, a more rewarding time, to be a credit union.

Today, our nation is in the midst of a full-blown trust crash. Millions of Americans feel they have been let down by their government, big banks and institutions across the board. However, people have not given up hope – and they are looking to community-based entities, including credit unions, to fill the void.

Credit unions have a responsibility and an opportunity to step forward, to be the refuge people are searching for and to provide the support consumers need to get through the day. More so than ever before, credit unions’ leadership and services can make a difference in Americans’ lives.

Helping communities has always been the foundation of our industry, and our movement’s efforts have been on full display in recent years:

  • When hurricanes hit the United States, credit unions – big and small – sent gift cards, donated food and water, and reinvested in the island communities.
  • Last year, Californians saw their communities destroyed by wildfires, and across the region credit unions stepped up and offered emergency zero-interest loans, higher credit limits, and payment deferrals to those affected.
  • Earlier this year in Nebraska, countless local credit unions took similar actions to bring financial relief to their members affected by historic flooding.
  • And just over six months ago, credit unions immediately and proactively stepped up to the plate to extend a helping hand to federal workers and members of the Coast Guard impacted by the partial government shutdown.

This is what the credit union industry is all about: extending a hand to those in need.

It is this the kind of flexibility, fair treatment and honest service – with a personal touch – that makes a real difference and inspires trust in our communities.

Even when disaster strikes, storm clouds roll in and financial outlooks may appear blackened and bleak, credit unions do not shy away. They face challenges head on and provide for their members and local communities. Period.

This month, hundreds of credit union leaders will join NAFCU in New Orleans for our 52nd Annual Conference and Solutions Expo. For many in our movement, New Orleans is a symbolic city. Hurricane Katrina, one of the strongest and deadliest storms to ever land on our shores – leaving 80% of the city underwater when it hit in 2005 – also showed what our industry is capable of.

It was the heroic actions of over 100 local credit unions who, within days of the storm’s conclusion and with parts of the city still under water, managed to open their doors to assist impacted members. These moments must not go unnoticed – they are what separates us from the big banks. Our customers are our members, and our members are our friends and neighbors. How we treat one another is the legacy of our industry and it is how our industry maintains trust.

Because of efforts like this, NAFCU remains committed to advocating for credit unions. Be it state- or federally chartered, large or small, NAFCU will represent the industry. In the lead up to the 2020 elections, we anticipate a noisy political scene. But that will not prevent us from fighting for you.

To ensure our industry has the ability to serve their 117 million members, we will continue to advocate in Washington, D.C. We will work across the aisle – meeting with Republicans and Democrats – despite some believing “bipartisanship” is a dirty word these days.

And we call on credit union leaders across the country to join us, to share our noble pursuits with their elected officials, and to be good stewards of the industry’s mission and reputation.

It is NAFCU’s honor to serve credit unions. We believe in the industry’s cooperative structure and community focus. And we believe credit unions are the best option for American consumers.

We are proud to stand by their side – just as they do for their members. To us, it’s personal.

This story was updated at 4:21 P.M. on June 20, 2019.

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Credit unions Growth strategies Corporate philanthropy Dan Berger NAFCU