By Rose Oswald Poels
Advocacy is the central focus of nearly every function at the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA). With a mission to assist bankers in positively impacting the communities they serve, the Association plays an important role in providing resources and opportunities to all members to help facilitate the conversations that are critical to making their voices heard on matters that affect our industry and, in turn, our neighbors.
Recently, WBA’s Government Relations team mailed each member bank the annual Advocacy Toolkit. The Toolkit features several resources including best practices, how to identify and contact local legislators, as well as all the ways your bank can choose to assist the Association in our political fundraising efforts.
With the support of our members, the last biennium has resulted in several advocacy accomplishments — as highlighted by the 2022–2023 WBA Advocacy Report — on both the offensive and defensive side. While the last session was extremely active, we expect the next two years to be even more so as we prepare for the next U.S. election in 2024.
While fundraising is not always the most glamorous aspect of advocacy, it is certainly one of the most important. It ensures that those who support the banking industry are elected to office and helps our team effectively lobby for key issues impacting the industry. Looking back, I am pleased to say that in 2022, WBA raised over $270,000 to support our mission. Of course, this accomplishment is not possible without the support of our members. One hundred sixty bankers received WBA’s Silver Triangle recognition in 2022 for contributing at least $500 to our advocacy efforts, and 46 institutions earned WBA’s Gold Triangle award for political fundraising in 2022.
This year, the Association’s goal is to raise $300,000 — a feat we have not accomplished in the last five years. As you and your team consider the various ways to participate this calendar year, I remind you that any combination of donations to the Wisbankpac, Alliance for Bankers Conduit (ABW), or the issue advocacy fund move WBA closer to achieving our calendar year fundraising goal.
Personally, I give at least $4,000 each year towards supporting WBA’s political efforts and encourage not only executive management to give generously — as our livelihoods depend on the success of this great industry — but also welcome every banker to contribute as even small-dollar donations help make a big difference.
New members are encouraged to join at the Silver Triangle level, now set at $1,000, and existing members may consider doubling, tripling, or quadrupling their donation amount. As such, WBA is excited to announce two new ways bankers can be recognized for its political giving: WBA’s Leadership Circle, awarded to those who contribute at least $3,000, and WBA’s Hall of Fame Recognition, recognizing those who contribute at least $25,000 in aggregate lifetime investments through any combination of Wisbankpac or ABW.
If you have any questions regarding political fundraising or would like to learn more about which donation level is right for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to or Lorenzo Cruz, WBA vice president – government relations, or me.
Aside from making political contributions, another vital component in ensuring the health and security of banks in Wisconsin is grassroots involvement. As I have stated in a previous Executive Letter, this year we have set an ambitious goal of having 200 attendees at this year’s Capitol Day. As you may know, over 200 attendees were present for the Wisconsin Credit Union League’s Capitol Day, which was held in January. With several legislative priorities on our radar this year, now more than ever, bankers will play a pivotal role in shaping the image of our industry and ensuring that our elected officials remain informed and educated on topics that impact bankers and communities throughout the state.
Currently, only 30% of our attendance goal has been reached, and with WBA’s Capitol Day right around the corner on April 26, 2023, I urge you to register now to join me and your peers at the State Capitol. In addition to receiving a legislative briefing from our GR team, this year’s event will feature a panel discussion moderated by Jeff Mayers, president of WisPolitics.com, as well as an update from the Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca. In the afternoon, attendees will meet in groups with their local legislators.
Again, with so much in store for the upcoming legislative session, I appreciate those members who go out of their way to join WBA in supporting the banking industry. The dedication and support of bankers is reflected in the success of our Association and a thriving banking industry in Wisconsin.