The President's Perspective
by Jeff Olson
President/CEO
1/20/2021

Wednesday Greetings!

Today is a new day for our country. This morning, Joe Biden will be sworn in as this country’s 46th president. While things will look and feel different in Washington, D.C. today in comparison to previous inaugurations, at the end of the day we will have experienced the peaceful transition of power, despite what is being hyped. We will see changes take place immediately with the new administration as it is very clear that Congress has a lot to focus on to help our country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even here in the Dakotas as we welcome back our state legislators, the road ahead is a difficult one. We certainly wish our lawmakers and community leaders the best as they seek to provide solutions for us all.

For too many Dakotans, financial insecurity today is a great worry, and we see our members and communities feeling that stress. That is why it is so important that we tell our credit union story early and often. With attention on Capitol Hill at a premium for policymakers, we must remind them how important our mission is for our members—their constituents. We help people, especially when they need it the most.

Our advocacy agenda was crafted to help more Americans, and specifically, more Dakotans achieve financial well-being for all, to help folks achieve more than just living paycheck to paycheck. You could say that credit unions are built for times like this.

Throughout all of this, Dakota credit unions have been delivering on our core mission of supporting families and those impacted by the pandemic. We are putting our mission to the test. Dakota credit unions helped by assisting nearly 4,000 small businesses obtain over $100 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding. Many credit unions offered low-interest hardship loans and waived common fees, such as ATM charges, late fees, and loan application fees. Some even offered stimulus advances while people waited for their COVID assistance payments. As Dakotans struggled to feed their families, our credit unions also supported their local food pantries with food drives and cash donations.

You know how your credit union has helped your members, but we cannot assume anyone else knows. No one else will tell our story for us. To help us relay our story and get in front of our lawmakers we have launched new innovative approaches to credit union messaging like the Advancing Communities campaign, which is designed to give credit unions a platform to inform state policymakers about the economic and social benefits credit unions bring to their communities every day.

Our Dakota credit unions do amazing things every day to help people and their communities– in good times and in times of trouble. That is the credit union difference. Thank you for the work you do in your community and in the mission to improve the lives of our members.

Here is the short video message we sent to our lawmakers in both states this week to welcome them back. The message was designed to help us gain support from prominent leaders in the state legislatures who view credit unions as valued partners rather than just another group to be taxed or over-regulated. We also brought their attention to our Advancing Communities state pages. If you haven’t visited the site yet, I encourage you to do so.

Advancing North Dakota

Advancing South Dakota

 

Join Us for a 2021 kickoff CEO Town Hall!

Dakota Credit Union Association will host a Virtual Town Hall for CEOs/Managers on Wednesday, January 27 at 11:00 a.m. (CT) / 10:00 a.m. (MT). We have some exciting news to share and many updates on our educational events, conferences, compliance, and awareness.  Plus, we will layout the year ahead and share important updates on the advocacy front, specifically what’s issues we are tracking this legislative session. Look for the invite in your email inbox.

 

Great Opportunity for Small Credit Unions!

This will be the first time that the GAC will be held virtually, but then this has been a year of many “firsts” for our industry. A coordinated effort between CUNA and the Leagues is underway to ensure that the 2021 GAC remains the premier advocacy event. I wanted to share this great opportunity for all small credit unions under $120M in assets. CUNA is giving away 13 scholarships to the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) on the Small Credit Union Community! To enter the contest drawing, participating credit unions must be signed up for one of several “Digests” at the Small Credit Union Community and respond to at least one of five “GAC Contest Questions.” There will be an early drawing on Thursday, January 21 (tomorrow) and the remaining winners will be announced on Tuesday, February 16. Click here for Friday’s Memo story with more details, or you can qualify for these drawings via the contest page on the Small Credit Union Community.

First GAC Keynote Speaker Announced

A childhood “red rubber ball” created a community and opportunity for author/speaker Kevin Carroll, and now serves as a powerful metaphor for chasing one’s dreams. Learn how to tap into your own “red rubber ball” and see the difference it can make for you, your credit union, and your members. Do not miss Carroll’s thought-provoking, life-affirming presentation at CUNA GAC, March 2-4. To learn more that this year’s virtual GAC or to register click here.

 

Save and Never Go Extinct!

This year’s theme for National Credit Union Month is “Be a credit union saver and your savings will never go extinct.” Each April, National Credit Union Month encourages kids to develop healthy savings habits by turning it into an adventure. Credit unions can engage with young members through contests, giveaways, special promotions, and a variety of other activities to encourage financial wellness. You can find more information and resources as well as promotional materials for Credit Union Youth Month here.

Have a great week!

Jeff

 

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