//Home / Blog
  1. // Courtesy Pay

    Is Courtesy Pay Good for Members?

    Mike Beall, President of the Maryland and DC Credit Union Association, recently had a letter published in USA Today regarding overdraft protection programs – often called “courtesy pay.” Courtesy pay is not a target product of REAL Solutions. However, many low-income families are using and have come to depend on this product.

    While we do not promote or refute the use of this product, we want to know what do you think:

    Do courtesy pay programs benefit and promote good money management strategies for low wage working families? If so how?

    If not, why not?


    Answer simply through our survey and click here to leave a comment.

    Click through to read Mike’s letter.

    Read more

  2. // Check Cashing

    Implementation Guide for Check Cashing Program

    Check cashers reportedly cash 180 million checks totaling $55 billion each year.

    In 2006, the average cost to cash a payroll check was 4.11% of the face value. That means a worker would pay an average of $19.66 every week to cash a $478.41 payroll check at a check casher. That amounts to an annual cost of $1,022.32 to cash net earnings of $24,877.

    Credit unions can offer check cashing services at far more affordable terms and favorable conditions. To encourage more credit unions to jump into check cashing, an open source Check Cashing Implementation Guide is now available.

    Read more

  3. // Social Impact

    The Proof is in the Product Features

    Does your credit union offer a payday loan alternative? If so, please take some time to participate in the REAL Solutions Payday Loan Alternative Survey, designed to measure the financial and societal impact of credit union payday loan (PDL) alternatives.

    This tool will provide you with a printable summary of your product’s direct financial benefit to members as compared to the products offered by payday lenders. Use this information for press releases, newsletter articles, reports…even in marketing materials to let your members know they can get a better deal at their credit union.

    Read more

  4. // REAL CU Voices

    Executive Monograph – Strength in Membership

    Is now the time to hunker down or is now the time to aggressively pursue market share? When asked this question, Gerry Agnes, President and CEO of Elevations Credit Union – Boulder Colorado – stressed that “strength is in the membership” and “members need their credit union now more than ever.” A sound operation and balance sheet driven by efficiency is the key to insure long term viability.

    Join us to hear Gerry Agnes share his opinions. We encourage your comments below.

    Read more

  5. // League Highlights

    New Mexico Credit Union Association – Hosting a REAL Solutions Outreach Workshop: The New Mexico Story

    This article is the third installment in a monthly series of interviews designed to provide REAL Solutions® League Liaisons and other league staff up-to-date strategies used by their peers to grow their REAL Solutions® efforts. This interview describes the efforts of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) to develop and host a REAL Solutions® outreach workshop for credit unions in New Mexico and Texas. Please learn more from this interview with Kathy Darwin, CUANM’s REAL Solutions® program coordinator.

    Read more

  6. // Youth & Young Adults

    Six Free Webinars on Attracting Youth & Young Adults

    Did you know that the average college graduate carries more than $20,000 in debt?

    Did you know that less than a quarter of credit union directors are younger than 50, and only 6% are younger than 40?

    Did you know that young credit union professionals value innovation and relationships more than salary?

    We’ve partnered with the Filene Research Institute to bring research findings and useful advice to REAL Solutions credit unions. More than a jumble of data, this series of webinars brings insights to the range of challenges facing credit unions and promises solutions for attracting younger members, younger professionals, and younger volunteers.

    Click through for the details.

    Read more

  7. // Fundraising

    Video: Grantwriting for Credit Unions

    Thanks so much to Megan McNally for leading us in a brilliant grantwriting workshop on Tuesday.

    Click through to view and download her workshop slides and the Logic Model Worksheet.

    Read more

  8. // Conferences

    Three Great Links From Our Grant Writing Workshop

    We’re in Milwaukee this week for Summer League Liaison & Field Coach Meeting. All day today is our Grant Writing workshop, lead by Megan E. McNally, a principal of mds|Northwest, a boutique consultancy serving philanthropic and charitable organizations. Here are a few great resources she’s shared so far today…

    Read more

  9. // Conferences

    Live Streaming the Summer League Liaison & Field Coach Meeting

    Next week is our Summer League Liaison & Field Coach Meeting, three days packed with insight and ideas to help our leagues reach and serve their members in new ways.

    The program includes an economic update, a look at two innovative savings strategies (one of which was recently praised by the Wall Street Journal), new ideas in affordable auto lending, how to help members through the America’s foreclosure crisis, and strategies for reaching young members.

    For those of you who can’t make it this year, the good news is we’ll be live streaming video from most of the event over the web. You can tune in at your leisure to watch live video and comment on sessions. We’ll even have a chat window open to take your questions during the Q & A.

    Click through for more details.

    Read more

  10. // Communication Strategy

    Delving into the Mind of Low-to Moderate-Income Savers

    LMI families are finding it increasingly difficult to save money. In Does Imagery Matter: Delving into the Mind of Low- to Moderate-Income Savers, the Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D) and the Filene Research Institute partnered to analyze how marketing images influence LMI families’ likelihood of saving.

    Researchers found that choosing emotionally provocative images can make successful connections with low- to moderate-income consumers. This works especially well when targeting specific segments within this market, like single mothers. You’ll find examples of successful emotional images throughout this report.

    If you’d like your colleagues to see these images as well, Filene and NCUF are offering you a free download of the report’s electronic version. Just fill in the form at: http://filene.org/free/lowwealth to receive your complimentary PDF.

    Read more

  11. // Social Impact

    Impact Assessment: Baseline Survey Results May 2009

    Measuring the impact of partner credit unions among low-wealth and modest income families is one of the most important things we do at REAL Solutions. It’s how we learn what works. Our Baseline Survey is an ongoing measurement tool designed to measure the percentage of credit unions offering — and planning to offer — our key products, programs, and services.

    As of June 2009, 255 credit unions (43%) have responded to a 33 question survey to help us determine:

    1) The products and services our credit unions are offering, and
    2) The emerging markets they serve.

    Continue reading for trends and highlights and to view the full report…

    Read more

  12. // League Highlights

    Wisconsin Credit Union League – The Holistic Approach to Getting the Word Out: The Wisconsin Story

    This article is the fifth installment in a monthly series of interviews designed to provide REAL Solutions League Liaisons and other league staff up-to-date strategies used by their peers to grow their REAL Solutions efforts. This interview describes the efforts of the Wisconsin Credit Union League (WCUL) to grow the REAL Solutions® program through an aggressive approach to brand awareness and credit union participation. Please learn more from this interview with Christine Henzig, the Wisconsin League’s Director of Communications.

    Read more

  13. // REAL CU Voices

    Executive Monograph – Looking at today’s economic conditions as a “glass half full”

    Is now the time to hunker down or is now the time to aggressively pursue market share? When asked this question, Laida Garcia, President and CEO of floridacentral Credit Union expressed her views that credit unions that are well-capitalized are in position to aggressively pursue asset and membership growth.

    They should be taking advantage where banks have “opened the door for well-positioned credit unions to step in and serve frustrated bank customers.”

    Here Laida Garcia shares her point of view and welcomes comments below.

    Read more

  14. // Conferences

    From the Center for Financial Services Innovation

    Last week I attended a conference – not a credit union conference – but a financial services conference attended by all different kinds of financial service providers. Payday lenders, check cashers, bankers, regulators, community group, foundations and credit unions all gathered The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) annual conference.

    The CFSI is a group that works to “transform underbanked strategy” by “develops and distributes real-world tested research and strategy, provides funding to promising companies, and facilitates cross-sector business collaboration” (quoted from their site).

    In short: The conference was fascinating. The talk of the day was prepaid cards as the hottest new financial tool. With me was Field Coach Bill Myers, was kind enough who share his notes…

    Read more

  15. // REAL Member Stories

    A Guide to Gathering Member Testimonials

    In support of our video contest, we’ve put together a guide to help you capture member stories on video. And hopefully understanding some video storytelling fundamentals will be useful to you outside of this contest as well.

    Click through for highlights from the guide and a link to download the full PDF.

    Read more