For many years I’ve been an ardent advocate for spelling out the credit union difference—contrasting the cooperative approach to mortgage lending and other financial services from the for-profit sector. I still am.I also believe in the importance of advocacy at the national level. But from a broader perspective, I like to point to advocacy on a more foundational level.What I mean is, we put a lot of energy into telling lawmakers and regulators how things should be, but we don’t put that same energy into advocating the credit union difference to our members—both current and prospective—and our employees.I believe advocacy should start with each of us as personal ambassadors for credit unions—to explain to others how we are different: we are member-owned as cooperatives; we believe in being part of this movement, that it’s a shared experience; and that we re-invest in our operations and our people—not handing over profits to stockholders.This is a powerful message, and as we look for new members to join the movement—a given if we are to become stronger—we need to make a commitment to sharing our vision and “spreading the word” to others.Practically, there are many ways to do this:Tailor services to your membership that highlight the credit union difference, including creating niche products to help deserving members into car loans and finding ways to put more members into homes of their own—to help them build good credit and financial independence. Incorporate a lesson about the credit union difference for new employees. Make it part of their interaction with members. Teach them and they will teach others. 10SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Bob Dorsa Bob Dorsa is the President of the ACUMA (American Credit Union Mortgage Association) a professional trade association (co-founded by Dorsa in 1996). ACUMA is one of the most unique niche … Web: www.acuma.org Details Hold listening sessions (for members, but also employees) and work in the message at an appropriate time. Make it part of your marketing and promotion concepts. Include it in newsletters for members and devote a page on your website. Enlist the help of like-minded folks. Consider other cooperatives in your community and develop relationships with Realtors, who also want to put people into homes.To borrow a phrase, advocacy begins with you. Every time you share the message about the credit union difference, you have an opportunity to make a connection. The more connections, the stronger the bond.We believe in the credit union difference. Let’s make sure others know how we feel about it, every single day. Reach out to the community. Include mention in any public appearances and talks.