MADISON, Wis. -- A new savings program from the Filene Research Institute's i3 innovation group aimed at helping members get out of debt and build wealth needs input from the credit union industry.
The Savings Revolution program relies on local media partnerships and credit union communications to monitor the progress of competing members working to achieve their savings and debt reduction goals over a year's time. Following the format of a reality extreme financial makeover show, the media airs monthly 90-second vignettes which capture the ups and downs of the families working toward changing the way they save.
An Internet-based software program is being developed to complement the media exposure, allowing consumers in the market area to design their own Savings Revolution program. The net-based component will connect consumers, not only with their local credit unions' Savings Revolution competition, but with one another to blog about their personal financial experiences.
Denise Gabel, chief innovation officer for Filene, said the program aims to strengthen credit unions' position as a credible resource for financial education and tools.
"Many consumers find it difficult to construct a meaningful savings and debt reduction plan," Gabel said, adding, "but they do understand how important debt reduction is to their long term financial security."
The reality TV component of the Savings Revolution program has already been piloted at $1.2 billion GECU of El Paso, Texas. Musette Bracher, vice president of marketing at GECU, was very pleased with the initial response to the program.
"The response to GECU's Savings Challenge '07 has been amazing, and it has been really inspiring to watch our six families working through their financial challenges to reach their goals," Bracher said. "What's even better is the ripple effect the program is having on their families, friends and co-workers. People are jumping on the Savings Challenge bandwagon and are eager to try some of the financial tips our families are getting from their GECU coaches."
Bracher said she feels credit unions will find it easy to adopt similar programs for their communities.
"The beauty of the Savings Revolution is that it can be tailored to fit your market. We chose television stations because TV is fairly inexpensive to buy in El Paso. Other credit unions may find that radio stations or print may work better for them. Also, why not start a Savings Revolution through your local chapter, or even through your state league of credit unions to gain even more exposure?"
The i3 innovation group is currently developing the Web tool to allow consumers to set and achieve their own savings and debt-reduction goals.
To learn more about Savings Revolution, participate in developing the Web tool or to establish a pilot program in your market area, contact Denise Gabel at 608-231-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to express interest in the project is July 31.