Executive Letter: Take Action: Advancing the Association’s Advocacy Initiatives
By Rose Oswald Poels
This April, nearly 200 bankers from throughout Wisconsin gathered in Madison to address their elected officials on topics impacting our industry and communities. As part of the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) efforts to advocate and assist members in positively impacting their local communities, the Association annually hosts Capitol Day to provide bankers with the opportunity to establish relationships and share experiences with their legislators. This year’s record attendance not only underscores the dedication WBA-member bankers have for their industry but highlights the desire bankers have to get involved.
During this legislative session, WBA will be working to guard against harmful credit union expansion and credit card swipe fees (interchange) as well as pass legislation that will help prevent elder financial exploitation, provide greater tax fairness, and support banking modernization, among many other key issues. In addition to familiar faces, we were happy to see many first-time attendees at the 2023 Capitol Day. Now is the time to keep the momentum going; attending Capitol Day is just one of the many ways bankers in Wisconsin can get engaged to support the banking industry and the Association’s advocacy initiatives.
First and foremost, all banks should ensure that they have named an Advocacy Officer. As an Advocacy Officer, WBA members help coordinate regulatory, legislative, and community advocacy efforts in their bank, and beyond. This volunteer position serves as the point person between the WBA Advocacy Team and your bank. The Advocacy Officer shares key updates and opportunities to ensure your bank is up to speed on issues impacting your institution and your community.
In addition, your bank’s Advocacy Officer can help coordinate, in conjunction with WBA staff, Take Your Legislator to Work Days — an outreach program that provides lawmakers with the opportunity to learn more about the state’s banking industry by visiting a community bank. In addition, your bank’s Advocacy Officer can help coordinate or participate in trips to the State Capitol, Washington, D.C., and in-district offices to meet with state and federal elected officials and regulators.
As we look ahead to the 2024 Election, engagement in all areas of the Association’s advocacy infrastructure is critical. Of course, active participation in events that help connect bankers with their elected officials is important. However, in order to proactively support the pro-banking legislators and candidates who stand behind our industry, fundraising continues to be one of the most significant components in our role as advocates.
While donations of any amount to Wisbankpac, Alliance for Bankers Conduit (ABW), and the Association’s issue advocacy fund greatly impact the work we do on the industry’s behalf, I encourage bankers to consider joining WBA’s Silver Triangle Club, Gold Triangle Club, Leadership Circle, and/or the Hall of Fame.
- Silver Triangle: Minimum personal donation of $1,000 by an individual banker.
- Leadership Circle: Minimum personal donation of $3,000 by an individual banker.
- Hall of Fame: Minimum aggregate lifetime personal donations of $25,000 by an individual banker.
- Gold Triangle: Aggregate personal donation, based on bank-asset size, from officers, directors, and employees.
These efforts to unify the voices of bankers in Wisconsin and shape our industry for the betterment of our communities are impossible to do alone. Annually, WBA also recognizes the individual banks that go above and beyond in their overall advocacy efforts with the BIGG (Bankers Involved with Grassroots and Government) Award.
With such an impressive turnout at this year’s Capitol Day, I look forward to seeing the energy and enthusiasm continue to take WBA’s advocacy efforts to new levels.