Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD) recently reported a collective increase of small loans of over 26% in the fourth quarter of 2010 from credit unions they were tracking. MCUCD attributes the growth to a state-wide public awareness campaign it ran last year to educate the general public in Montana about the availability of small loans at credit unions. The campaign was made possible in large part by a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) grant though the REAL Solutions program.
The growth in the 4th quarter of 2010 is part of a continuing trend. MCUCD reported that loans during the 4th quarter increased by 26.7% from the third quarter with a similar increase in the 3rd quarter (a 24.4% increase).
“Congratulations to Montana’s credit unions for these impressive results,” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF’s REAL Solutions National Program Director. “By offering consumers these small loans, you are helping more people avoid - or get out of - the payday loan debt trap.”
About the Small Loans Campaign
During the months of September and October 2010, MCUCD ran the statewide awareness campaign educating the public on the availability of small loans at credit unions. The campaign included PSAs statewide on broadcast television and radio, stating that "most credit unions make loans as small as $300." At the same time, credit unions, nonprofit partners, and other interested groups distributed campaign materials developed by MCUCD to members and clients state-wide.
MCUCD set out with the belief that seeking credit union based programs to combating predatory lending is a great opportunity to showcase the credit union difference, promote credit union philosophy, show credit unions adhering to their social mission and, most importantly, improve the lives of credit union members. Knowing that all credit unions do small loans on a case-by-case basis, even those without a special payday loan alternative policy/product, MCUCD’s enhancement was the addition of a state-wide public awareness campaign. The campaign was a result of MCUCD finding that awareness of these small loans among the general public was low.
About REAL Solutions®
REAL Solutions® is the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation. REAL — ― “Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing” — Solutions works to help credit unions offer a wide range of products and services that have proven successful in serving working families with low wealth and modest means. Using product/business models created and tested by credit unions, REAL Solutions disseminates information to credit unions through special meetings, an online impact center at www.realsolutions.coop, and state and national conferences. As NCUF’s signature program over the past three years, REAL Solutions has been adopted in 40 states and is saving members tens of millions of dollars. It has now become a documented business strategy for credit unions to grow their memberships by serving the underserved. Real people with real needs are finding REAL Solutions at credit unions.
Loan totals from the 12 credit unions that MCUCD is tracking (“program to date” totals are from 2008-2010):