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“The American Debt Relief Challenge” is seeking to do what the NCUA pushed so hard for a couple years ago: provide quantifiable evidence of the credit union difference.The industry campaign aims to save American families $300 million by promoting credit card balance transfers to low-cost credit unions. An interactive Web site (www.adrchallenge.org) with a total savings ticker attracts both consumers and credit unions and utilizing mapping software, breaks down savings by state and by individual credit union. As of press time, the savings ticker was up to a total of $4.7 million.“In these tough economic times, it really demonstrates the difference between credit unions and banks, particularly mega-banks that look for excuses to punish the average consumer with default rates,” said Jamie Chase, an ADRC founder and partner at Tacoma, Wash.-based consulting firm Credit Union Strategic Planning.ADRC provides supporting artwork, including widgets and other online marketing tools. It also provides participating credit unions with the technology required to automatically tabulate member savings from credit card balance transfers, working directly with card vendors.Jason Green, owner of credit union marketing technology firm Code Green, developed the Web site and the channels that feed balance transfer data into the Web site. He said the ticker provides a new story line as it grows, keeping the campaign fresh.“It’s so much better than a static campaign, where you tell people the results three months later,” Green said. “This Web site is updated every hour.”Robert Manning, who created the responsible debt relief algorithm, has donated his algorithm to help with underwriting and has been talking up the program in the press, most recently on NPR.“There hasn’t been a national credit union media campaign since Dorothy Hamill in the 1970s,” Green said. “It’s time.”Earlene Fantz, president/CEO of the $44 million American Lake Credit Union, introduced the program to her membership on April 9.“It just breaks my heart when I review a loan and see the member has a Visa at an institution where they may be paying in the high 20% range,” Fantz said. “The program resonates with me because I know it’s right for our members, and its turnkey at a good price, which is right for the credit union because we don’t have a big marketing department.”Fantz, who has spent 15 years on the board of the Washington Credit Union Foundation, said she also signed up because the program donates a percentage of proceeds to the National Credit Union Foundation.Credit unions with less than $25 million in assets receive the program for free, Chase said; all others pay $500. State credit union leagues can partner with ADRC for free, and not only will they gain a promotion for members, but they can use the ticker count to illustrate the difference credit unions make in communities when lobbying legislators.“This is an amazing membership growth and net revenue campaign, because consumers, media and lawmakers want a source to prove credit unions really do save consumers money,” Chase said, adding, “just hearing it from a trade association isn’t independent enough.”–[email protected]

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