(The following post was submitted by Timothy Flacke, Executive Director at Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D), who, along with colleague Kristy Bowden, Financial Entertainment Specialist at D2D, spoke at SourceMedia's 5th Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum in Miami.)
Why can't saving money be fun and exciting? When I think of deposit products, I start to yawn. Don't get me wrong, savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and prepaid debit cards with a savings pocket are all important products for the unbanked and underbanked. But, let's face it, they are boring.
Doorways to Dreams Fund (D2D) is working to change that paradigm with prize-linked savings. Prize-linked savings is about having the chance to win stuff as a result of saving money regularly. And who doesn't like to win stuff? With more than 200,000 locations in the U.S. where consumers can buy tickets, state lotteries have generated over $30 billion in revenue by tapping into this very idea.
Working with the Michigan Credit Union League and the Filene Research Institute, and with funding from CFSI, D2D successfully led the creation and implementation of Save to Win in Michigan. Save to Win is a prize-linked product that awards hundreds of monthly prizes and a yearly grand prize of $100,000 to one lucky Michigan saver. And Michigan residents get entries for every $25 saved. This cocktail of saving and winning generated over 11,600 accounts and more than $8.6 million saved across eight participating credit unions.
Our research on the Michigan pilot in 2009 found something quite interesting: winning a monthly prize led to better saving habits. And prize size did not matter. More importantly, low-income and asset poor consumers generated small savings by year-end.
At this year's CFSI conference we've released our second title, Groove Nation, which is the first-ever dance-budgeting casual video game. This game follows our very successful first game, Celebrity Calamity, in which players manage the credit and debit cards for a variety of spendthrift celebrities. Celebrity Calamity has won awards and been featured in various news outlets (like here, for instance). In 2010, D2D will release two more games bringing our library to four, and we plan to put a game out on a mobile platform.
So, who said saving money can't be fun? Not us.