REAL Solutions® Surpasses Year-End Goal, Reaching 34 States and 1,200 Credit Unions
NCUF’s Signature Program Signs 4 New States in First 4 Months of 2009
|WASHINGTON (4/22/09) – Surpassing the goal to reach 33 states by year-end 2009, REAL Solutions – the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) – is now reaching 34 states and 1,200 credit unions.|
In the first four months of 2009, four more states have agreed to offer REAL Solutions:
Surprisingly, at the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), REAL Solutions liaisons are witnessing an encouraging new phenomenon: Credit unions are already signing up for REAL Solutions even before PCUA’s meeting to introduce the program.
|“In this uncertain economy, credit unions are looking for new ways to help members build good credit, grow savings, and gain assets,” reports NCUF’s REAL Solutions National Program Director Lois Kitsch. “The need for REAL Solutions has never been greater.”|
Kitsch has set a new personal goal to bring REAL Solutions to 40 states by year-end.
New “Virtual Solutions”
|At the same time, NCUF is providing “virtual solutions” accessible to credit unions in every state.|
The online REAL Solutions Impact Center (www.realsolutions.coop) features new toolkits, podcasts, monographs, blogs, and many other resources to help credit unions offer sustainable products and services that have proven effective reaching members with low wealth.
Low-wealth members include people with low income or modest means, as well as people with moderate and middle incomes who are struggling to save or hold onto assets.
Surveys on the Impact Center document how credit unions are saving those members tens of millions of dollars.
Sustainable Business Strategy
|“The most successful products and services are not only affordable for consumers, but also sustainable for credit unions,” Kitsch explains. “Sustainable products and services become a permanent part of credit unions’ business plans – as opposed to ‘loss leaders’ that must be limited in volume or subsidized by other parts of the credit unions’ operations.”|
“As credit unions seek resources to better serve low-wealth households and emerging markets,” NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin concludes that “REAL Solutions has become an even more critical business strategy for credit unions growing their memberships by serving the underserved. Now that the strategies are detailed online on the REAL Solutions Impact Center, thousands more credit unions can benefit from our shared experiences across the country.”
Funding REAL Solutions
|NCUF, state credit union foundations and leagues are funding REAL Solutions through the Community Investment Fund (CIF), which won the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Award for Fundraising Excellence.|
CIF investments are structured to earn dividends for each investing credit union while making charitable donations to NCUF and state credit union organizations.
About REAL Solutions
|REAL Solutions was piloted by the Filene Research Institute in 2003 to provide "Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing" financial services to working families with low wealth. The pilot introduced innovations to credit unions in three states and succeeded in securing a safety net for consumers who were at risk. Results from the three pilot years are documented in the 2006 Filene report, REAL Solutions: Solving the Financial Service Needs of America's Working Families.|
In 2007, NCUF launched REAL Solutions nationwide. In the first two years as NCUF's signature program, REAL Solutions was adopted in 30 states. As a result, credit unions are providing new products and services that have proven successful in serving consumers with low wealth and driving credit unions’ growth strategies.
For credit unions to best meet the needs of emerging markets, credit unions must offer the right products – at the right prices – and the right terms and conditions. Using product models created and tested by credit unions, REAL Solutions disseminates these business models to credit unions through special REAL Solutions meetings, the online REAL Solutions Impact Center, and state and national conferences.
REAL Solutions reaches people of all ages and ethnic groups. For predatory loan victims struggling to climb out of debt… aspiring entrepreneurs reaching to revitalize low-income communities… life-long renters striving to realize the American dream… recent immigrants learning to build new lives… and everyone across America working to live from paycheck to paycheck… real people with real needs are finding REAL Solutions at credit unions.
By the end of 2009, REAL Solutions was projected to help 2,000 credit unions in 33 states provide new products and services that will attract 250,000 low-wealth consumers to become credit union members.
REAL Solutions Ultimate Potential
|REAL Solutions has the potential to touch millions of lives. An estimated 20% of all American households – 40 million American families representing 100 million people – lack access to basic financial services.|
REAL Solutions aims to help low-wealth consumers become loyal, long-term credit union members who will grow savings and accumulate assets that generate wealth for their families.
The greatest potential for membership growth, according to CUNA’s Membership Growth Task Force, is attracting diverse membership groups. Providing profitable yet affordable services to more members is a sound business decision that also fulfills credit unions’ social mission.