Prospera Credit Union’s “GoodMoney” Collaboration with Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin to Receive National Credit Union Foundation Award

Wegner Award Recognizes GoodMoney as “Outstanding Program”

The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) will bestow the Herb Wegner Award for Outstanding Program on the first partnership to place credit union services in a Goodwill store. Prospera Credit Union of Appleton, Wis., will receive the award for its collaboration with Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin to offer “GoodMoney,” a program featuring a not-for-profit alternative to payday lending and check cashing.

It will be the first of three prestigious awards to be celebrated at NCUF’s Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference at the Hilton Washington on Feb. 25, 2007.

GoodMoney, located inside a Goodwill store, offers:
  • Short-term loans at less than half the rates of for-profit payday lenders;
  • Check-cashing with substantially lower fees than for-profit check-cashers;
  • Money orders and bill payments;
  • International wire transfers serving a sizable Latino population;
  • Referrals to the Financial Information and Service Center (FISC) in Menasha, Wis. This program of Goodwill North Central Wisconsin offers financial workshops and budget counseling to help consumers manage their money. For those who are already in financial trouble, FISC develops debt management plans.
NCUF supported GoodMoney with a $75,000 grant to Prospera Credit Union in early 2006.

In its first 15 months, GoodMoney made 2,700 loans totaling more than $1 million and saved consumers more than $150,000 in fees. Borrowers who return for a third loan are offered an individualized credit counseling session with a FISC professional. If they participate in the session and need a future payday-type loan, the credit union will grant the next loan fee-free. Prospera Credit Union began offering GoodMoney in all five of its branches this past spring.

“GoodMoney is a unique, collaborative and competitive approach to fulfilling the short-term loan needs of people in our community,” explains Prospera Credit Union CEO Kenneth Eiden, Jr. “GoodMoney has captured the attention of the local marketplace, state and national consumer researchers, consumer advocacy groups, legislators, and Goodwill Industries nationwide. We hope that the program is a seed of innovation that continues to spread throughout the credit union industry and will benefit innumerable members.”

“It’s a unique opportunity for non-profit organizations with similar missions to collaborate toward common goals,” related Bob Pedersen, President/CEO of Goodwill North Central Wisconsin and a recent member of the Goodwill Industries International Board of Directors. “Providing people with lifelong economic planning is instrumental to our mission. We must ensure that debt is not a barrier to people’s futures.”

Pedersen noted that the collaboration today between the two organizations is reflective of each organization’s founding father’s vision in Boston in the early 1900s: the credit union movement’s Edward A. Filene, who worked to grow consumer cooperation; and Goodwill Industries’ Dr. Edgar J. Helms, who spearheaded the philosophy of “a hand up, not a handout.”

“Where we’ve been in the past truly helps us see where we are going in the future,” Pederson observed. “GoodMoney is a way in which we can help fulfill today’s needs while looking forward to meet tomorrow’s needs for people of limited resources.”

New Web site Available

“The combination of reduced-fee services and financial education opportunities makes GoodMoney an innovative model for similar endeavors throughout the credit union industry,” Eiden commented.

In fact, Eiden has received so many requests from credit union executives to learn more about GoodMoney, he has created a password-protected website for those considering a similar partnership in their communities: www.goodmoneystore.com. The website includes an introduction to GoodMoney, planning session documents, legal documents, and examples of how to promote the program.

“Credit unions nationwide have the opportunity to take the GoodMoney model and customize it to their local needs,” Eiden observed. “Now we’ve made it easier for them by offering the information online.”

Expanding REAL Solutions

“Prospera has emerged as one of the leaders of more than 40 Wisconsin credit unions that are pioneering an initiative called REAL Solutions,” notes Wisconsin Credit Union League President Brett Thompson. “Prospera’s work in developing this program has encouraged more Wisconsin credit unions to participate in REAL Solutions by showing what can be accomplished by fully using resources within credit unions and the community to solve lingering social problems.”

Piloted by the Filene Research Institute and three leagues, REAL Solutions is designed to develop solutions to predatory financial services, offer less costly alternatives to meet the transactional needs of low-income people, and transition them to saving and wealth-building.

This coming December, the National Credit Union Foundation will take on REAL Solutions as its signature program. NCUF’s three-year goal is to provide a wide array of REAL Solutions business models to more than 2,000 credit unions in 33 states.

“As a program of the Foundation, REAL Solutions will be designed to help credit unions effectively reach low-wealth households and make each person a loyal, long-term member,” explains NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “This is important because underserved households – while at the bottom of the economic pyramid now – represent future savers, future car-buyers, future homeowners, and future generations of credit union members.”

Eiden believes this represents the evolution of credit unions. “GoodMoney is just one example of how we challenge ourselves to continually evolve the role of credit unions in an ever-changing financial services industry. We take our status as a not-for-profit, member-owned credit union and responsible member of the community to heart. We attempt to live our mission in innovative ways every day.”

Upcoming Wegner Awards

Next week, NCUF will feature the recipient of the Herb Wegner Memorial Individual Achievement Award. The following week, NCUF will feature the recipient of the Herb Wegner Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards are named in honor of late CUNA CEO Herb Wegner, who revolutionized the ways credit unions serve their communities. The awards recognize Wegner’s spirit of “innovative, creative, risk-taking” leadership.