By Howard Spencer
Chief Elected Official, Northland Area FCU (BO)
Our 2008 fund-raising activities for MCULAF and MCULLAF — the MCUL’s state and federal PACs, respectively — face a formidable challenge in attempting to top our efforts of 2007. As they used to say in vaudeville: We have a tough act to follow!
When it comes to PAC fund raising, 2007 wasn’t just one for the history books; it was one for the record books, too. When the final dollars were tabulated, the combined 2007 total for MCULAF (state) and MCULLAF (federal) settled in at $396,821.45 — an all-time record, easily topping the previous high-water mark of $365,492.65 set in 2004. The MCULAF (state) total of $133,576.87 in 2007 also set a new all-time high, besting the $106,103.70 raised in 2005. And the MCULLAF (federal) total of $263,244.58, while not a new record, is better than $25,000 ahead of the $238,104.08 collected in 2006.
Ninety-nine Michigan credit unions raised at least 100 percent of their MCULLAF (federal) goals; 77 credit unions met or exceeded their MCULAF (state) goals; and 60 credit unions raised at least 100 percent of both their state and federal PAC targets.
These would be great achievements under any circumstances — but when you consider Michigan’s troubled economy and how tight money is for many Michiganians at this time, these new records become truly remarkable. Thanks and congratulations are certainly owed to all the hard-working credit union professionals and volunteers who donated their time and their money to make this success possible.
So — what does this portend for 2008? Conventional wisdom has it that success breeds success — but, unfortunately, it can also breed a sense of complacency. The reality is that the need for strong and effective PAC fund-raising never ends. We can’t afford to rest on our laurels, and there is no place for a “Let-George-do-it” attitude when it comes to helping ensure that our state and federal PACs are strong and well-funded.
Maintaining our momentum will be particularly important in 2008. It’s an election year, with all 110 members of the Michigan House of Representatives and all 15 of our U.S. House members facing the voters in November. As always, credit unions have much at stake in the balloting, and it’s vital that we show tangible support for lawmakers and candidates who are supportive of credit unions.
The issues that will confront the next Congress and Michigan Legislature are weighty, and many of them are vital to credit unions. Will budget shortfalls endanger our tax status? Is meaningful credit union regulatory relief possible over the opposition of the banking industry lobby? What adjustments may be needed to the Michigan Credit Union Act? And, given the critical role that small entrepreneurs play in our economy, shouldn’t credit unions be empowered to make more Member Business Loans?
How can we, as credit union people, influence the outcome of these and other issues? First, and most importantly, credit union members, volunteers and professionals alike can support credit union-friendly candidates by going to the polls and casting their ballots. Also important, however, is that each of us contribute directly to our state and federal PACs, MCULAF and MCULLAF.
Strong PACs are an essential part of the MCUL’s legislative advocacy efforts. Running for political office today is an extraordinarily expensive effort, and all candidates need the contributions of friends and political supporters to run a successful campaign. A well-funded MCULAF and MCULLAF are what make it possible for credit unions to support lawmakers and candidates who are supportive of us.
Now would be an appropriate time to make a pitch for what is traditionally one of the most successful fund raisers for the state PAC — the MCULAF lapel pins. The stylish pins are available at contribution levels of $25 (Capitol Club), $50 (Congress Club), $100 (Senate Club), $250 (President’s Club) and $500 (Chairman’s Club).
Purchasing and wearing a MCULAF pin makes a statement about your personal commitment to preserving and protecting credit unions and the credit union philosophy. And the lapel pin program is the cornerstone of our MCULAF fund raising, accounting for more than $74,000 or 56 percent of all the money raised for the state PAC in 2007. Last year also witnessed a 41 percent increase in lapel pin contributors and a $10,000 jump over the total raised in 2006. So we have indeed “raised the bar” for ourselves in 2008.
Let me close by encouraging all who care about the future of the credit union movement — professionals, volunteers and members alike — to get involved in PAC fund raising in 2008. Buy a lapel pin, make a donation, organize a fund raiser or just help out in any way you can. Banding together in this great common effort will not only ensure another record-setting year for MCULAF and MCULLAF — it will also ensure a bright future for Michigan credit unions.
For a complete report on 2007 PAC fund raising — as well as information on 2008 efforts, including the 2008 Lapel Pin program — visit the MCUL Web site at http://www.mcul.org/MCULLAFMCULAF_507.html. Questions regarding any 2008 PAC fund-raising activity may be directed to MCUL Political Affairs Manager Nancy Short at (800) 262-6285, Ext. 353, or firstname.lastname@example.org.