The Credit Union Difference

by Jim Nussle
The Credit Union Difference

At the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) we tell the credit union story. It’s our job to talk to lawmakers and regulators in Washington, members of the media, and American consumers about the credit union difference.

What do I mean by difference? Many people who aren’t credit union members are probably familiar with the words “credit union” but may not understand what makes us stand out from traditional banking. It’s these differences: our history, core principles, mission, structure, and services that distinguish us from other financial services offerings. But we have to constantly tell these stories to make sure people know what makes us different.

This is what I’m focused on this year, and it’s what I’ll be sharing at the DRIVE ’19 Lending Conference when I make the keynote address.

At CUNA, we talk about the credit union difference every day. In Washington, it’s our job – in partnership with Leagues – to make sure lawmakers and regulators understand our difference so that we are treated fairly. This is a tough job. There’s so much noise in Washington right now, and it can be challenging to get wins.

Despite this environment, CUNA helped credit unions have incredible success in 2018. The passage of S.2155, a historic bipartisan victory, was the highlight of these wins and achieved many industry regulatory reform goals.

The CUNA/League system has continued to talk to people in Washington and state capitols across the country in 2019. For example, during the government shutdown we were in constant communication with Capitol Hill to share how credit unions stepped up to help furloughed members. And boy, did they step up! We connected with over 500 credit unions across the country that offered members assistance during the shutdown. It was inspiring, but not surprising, to see credit unions immediately jump in to help.

The shutdown was an opportunity to share the credit union difference in action. It’s stories like these that illustrate how our industry best serves members without any pressure or prompting. It’s just what we do.

At CUNA, 2019 also marks a significant milestone in our efforts to build a national awareness initiative to drive consumer consideration of credit unions, as we’ve been planning this campaign for three years. In January, we launched – our consumer-facing campaign website that aims to educate visitors on the industry and direct them to credit unions in their neighborhood.

The first phase of the campaign tells consumers: Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union. The purpose is to debunk common myths about the industry: I can’t join; Accessing my money may be hard; They are too small; They are more for those in need. Consumers that land on will have access to facts about the industry and the opportunity to search for a credit union in their community.

We officially launched Open Your Eyes in Minnesota, and we have more states lined up to follow shortly. And our campaign fundraising continues.

The awareness campaign is big, bold, and new for credit unions. But like everything CUNA does, it’s all part of our mission to tell the industry’s story. Credit unions are different. We’re here to make sure everyone knows what makes our difference so special. I can’t wait to share more and listen to what others are doing in the industry at DRIVE ’19.


Don’t miss outjoin us at DRIVE and discover the strategies your credit union needs to gain a real competitive edge.

About the Author

Jim Nussle
Jim Nussle, President & CEO, Credit Union National Association