A Direct Line - A Blog addressing issues and topics of interest for Montana credit union board members
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Our weekly blog addresses issues and topics of interest for Montana credit union board members. 

We Can All Be More Prepared

There have been some examples in the news recently of major disasters changing a community’s priorities very quickly. Louisiana has been dealing with the aftermath of records rainfall and flooding and Montana has had the threat of wildfires in the Bitterroot. Add to that the daily threat of a power outage, major snow storm, an employee being unexpectedly unavailable, or a cyberattack on your system and you start to see how broad this topic can be. The thing about disasters is that you never know which one it might be, or how much time and opportunity you will have to respond.

As a director for a financial institution, you have a role in ensuring the continuity of services to the membership. Members will need access to cash and services during a crisis, so if your regular avenues are not available, they need to know where to go. Obviously, you can’t control the disaster itself, but by being prepared and having a plan, the credit union can often be a step ahead when something unexpected happens. Even more important than writing and approving a plan, is testing it.

September is National Preparedness Month. The theme for a second year revolves around crisis communications. A few critical questions for any board to ask include:

  • Do we have a written disaster plan? If so, who has access to it?
  • Has the plan been tested recently? What was learned and updated because of the test?
  • How will members be informed if we have a problem and services are changed or unavailable?
  • Who is expected to do what, including communication, when disaster strikes? Are there backups named?
  • Do we have a current list of partners and organizations to contact in the event of an emergency? Is the list available somewhere outside the credit union?

Just as your board updates policies and your strategic plan regularly, the disaster plan should also not be a static document. Keeping the lines of communication open with management and partner organizations before the unexpected happens can mitigate lost services after. Don’t be afraid to be the one asking the question during your board meeting about expectations and updates. Meanwhile, we’ll be hoping it is the one plan you never have to actually implement.


At the bottom of this page, you'll find links to past blog posts organized (loosely) into four categories. Feel free to browse. The blogs are all fairly short and provide food for thought in the areas of directors' duties and responsibilities, advocacy, working with the CEO, and ideas for strategic planning.

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