Strategies to Increase IDA Program Recruitment and Retention

Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are a matched savings program that help low and moderate-income families purchase assets such as a home, a post-secondary education, or the capital needed to start or expand a small business.  Neighborhood Partnerships brought Amy Shir—an expert asset building consultant—to present strategies to increase participant recruitment and retention to forty of Oregon’s IDA providers in June.

Ms. Shir recommended developing a recruitment strategy that maps out plans for the year including the target numbers of inquiries, applications and enrolled savers each quarter. Many of Ms. Shir’s recommended recruitment strategies are common sense approaches such as:

Reaching potential IDA savers though major employers of traditionally low wage workers such as hospitals, hotels, big-box retailers, restaurants, cleaning services, and sports and entertainment venues;

Reaching IDA savers by partnering with affordable housing programs, Small Business Centers, tribal organizations, Community Action Agencies, Head Start, vocational schools, or Refugee Resettlement Programs; and

Targeting low and moderate-income families who get their taxes prepared through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs, and encouraging new enrollees to save part or all of their Earned Income Tax Credit refund.

Ms. Shir also reminded those in attendance that a well planned retention strategy saves time and money for IDA providers in the long run. Ms. Shir recommended retention strategies such as:

Offering alternatives to participants physically having to go to the bank to make monthly deposits such as direct deposit, mail-in deposits, and ATM deposits;

Staying in touch with participants during the savings period through initiatives like Savers Club meetings, quarterly budgeting check-ins, electronic newsletters and Facebook groups, text message reminders to save, and sending monthly progress statements to savers;

Offering focused asset-specific resources to participants such as peer networking events for microenterprise IDA savers, campus tours and financial aid seminars for education IDA savers, and home tours for home ownership IDA savers;

Making financial education training as flexible and accessible as possible by offering perks for training attendees such as a convenient location, bus passes or other transportation support, multiple scheduling options, childcare, food, and interpreters if appropriate;

Encouraging prospective participants on waiting lists to start saving prior to enrollment since pre-savings can make it even easier for participants to reach their goals; and

Working with participants on credit repair as soon as they apply to the program to avoid unanticipated delays once the participant has met his or her savings goal.

Above all, Ms. Shir stressed flexibility, creativity and the importance of tailoring each IDA program to meet the diverse and changing needs of savers.  Click here to see Ms. Shir’s full PowerPoint from her June presentation. NP’s next IDA provider training will cover strategies for providing financial education to adult learners.  Email Haley Cloyd for more information.