Complete Description:This article discusses the results of and lessons learnt from the Financial Opportunities Project (FOP), a comprehensive effort by the Center for Economic Progress identify, implement, and disseminate strategies for integrating financial services and asset-building opportunities with community-based tax-preparation services at IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. The goal of the FOP was that 15 percent of tax clients would take on an asset building service, an improvement from the 8-12 percent take-up rate achieved in past pilot studies by the Center and tests on the take-up of savings matches or Savings Bonds. The Center developed the Asset Building Service Delivery System (ABSDS)—a process-based model for offering asset-building products and services to clients served by community-based programs. The components of the ABSDS include 1) strategic program planning around asset promotion, 2) simplicity in process design, 3) specialization of staff to promote assets, 4) specific and targeted promotional strategies, and 5) customer-focused processes. From the fall of 2008 through the end of the 2009 tax season, the Center oversaw the national launch of the ABSDS and awarded three programs grants to assess the effectiveness and versatility of the op- erational models and programmatic guides of the ABSDS. To the extent programs adapted the model and tested new ideas, this season provided an opportunity to further refine the ABSDS. Overall, take-up rates surpassed expectations, with almost 27 percent of clients enrolled in at least one service. The article provides a more detailed overview of the FOP findings and identifies recommendations for improved delivery of asset building services, concluding that such tax programs can effectively include simple messages and financial education to encourage savings and improve financial management skills.
Date Published:Monday, September 1, 2008
Author:J. Michael Collins
Funding Agency: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Type: Article;
Source: Survey data;
Language: English
Audience: Individual, Researcher, Teacher, Youth