Community Banker Advocacy Toolbox

Community Banker Advocacy Toolbox

Advocacy Idea: Take Your Legislator to Work Day

By: Allison Coccia, PACB

As community bankers and leaders in your hometowns, it is important to find creative ways to advocate community banking issues and engage and develop relationships with your state and federal elected officials.

Elected officials can be influential advocates and partners for economic development projects and funding. They weigh in on important regulatory and legislative issues that affect your customers’ daily lives and your bank’s ability to serve customers’ needs to grow and thrive. The more lawmakers understand the integral role community banks play in the well-being of their districts, the more likely they are to be your champion.

There are many ways to foster relationships with elected officials, but there is a great way to facilitate a legislator’s understanding of where you, your customers and employees are coming from. For maximum connection, invite them into your corporate home.

Take Your Legislator to Work Day

Similar to the program we are all familiar with, Take Your Child to Work Day, the idea is to invite your state legislator or congressman or woman to the bank to experience r day to day operations in real time. Guide them on a tour of the building, discuss the rich history of your bank and your legacy in the community. Walk them through departments, have them follow the process for obtaining a loan and help them understand the compliance around community banking operations. Ask policy-makers to sit down with your executive team to learn about the bank’s community economic development efforts, charitable giving and volunteer projects. Recount your regulatory struggles by providing real-life examples related to your local community. Invite them to speak to all of your employees and mix and mingle over coffee and doughnuts.

A lot can be accomplished in a one-and-a-half-hour time period. Legislators should walk away from your bank having gained an understanding of the community banking commitment to customers and the issues that inhibit local banks from serving the community’s needs. Elected officials will leave as better advocates for community banking.

A Win-Win for Everyone

Take Your Legislator to Work Day is a great outreach opportunity for both your legislator and your bank. Lawmakers want to meet employees and customers. Visiting community banks allows them to engage with large groups of constituents who are involved in many forms of community engagement. It is an informal way of discovering mutual connections and community projects. And, it provides employees the opportunity to meet and interact with local elected officials, and gives them a broader perspective of why advocacy is so important.

Community Banks Are an Important Resource for Legislators

Post 2018 elections, many of your legislators are newly-elected, and still getting to know their districts. You and your employees share a deep understanding of your legislator’s constituents, and what makes your local communities thrive. Community bankers are deeply woven into the fabric of the community’s schools, local government, small businesses, clubs and civic organizations, and economic revitalization efforts. It benefits lawmakers to have their ears to the ground and be up to date on the latest happenings in their districts.

Secondly, legislators need your expertise. Most lawmakers serve on committees that address issues unrelated to banking. Elected officials need community bankers to alert them to potentially harmful legislation for their communities, and to explain it to them in layman’s terms, illuminating the practical application for families and small businesses in their respective districts.

Taking it to the Next Level

This is also a great media opportunity for both the bank and the legislator. Elected Officials enjoy being featured in local news outlets, hard at work in their districts. With the legislator’s approval, invite local television stations, radio and newspapers to attend. It’s a great way to showcase your bank’s involvement in the community and secure a feature story about the importance of working with a community bank.

Include photos of the event in your bank newsletters, and include some highlights on your Twitter page, Facebook page, and Instagram account. This will broadcast the event to a broader audience, optimizing its effect on all social media channels.

How to Get Started

PACB has all the resources community banks need to execute a Take Your Legislator to Work Day. PACB will work with the lawmaker and the bank to schedule the visit. Email Allison Coccia at allison@pacb.org for sample agendas and ideas to bring this program to life. Your customers, employees, communities and legislators will be glad you did.