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How to Evaluate Financial Education Programs

woman smartphone financial icons
By Tim McAlpine

2 minutes

Eight ideal features to look for

Across North America, credit unions are considering financial education programs to meet a growing demand for financial knowledge from their employees and members.

Factors such as extended life expectancy, fintech and an increasingly complex array of financial products and markets are driving the desire by people of all ages to take more responsibility for their financial lives.

Financial education (or literacy) programs come in all shapes, sizes and prices. So how does a credit union decide what is best for their needs? These are the things that I recommend as ideal features in a financial education program.

1. Storytelling + Fun Teaching Methodology

Look for a teaching style that combines storytelling and fun. Storytelling is one of the oldest and most effective forms of learning. Enjoyable education is more engaging and productive.

2. Teacher-Developed and School-Approved

Program-enabled links between credit unions and schools significantly impact the fortunes of students, teachers and credit unions alike. A great example is a financial literacy school program run by Florida's VyStar Credit Union in partnership with 18 schools that has produced over 77,000 graduates.

3. Online and Offline Education Mix

Current research tells us what teachers have known for decades—that a mix of traditional and digital education content is highly effective.

4. Lots of Financial Education Content

Find a program with a large and diverse library of traditional and digital content to use across all your communications channels. Note: Two social posts a day per channel is recommended to maintain audience engagement.

5. Unrestricted Content Utilization

You should have unrestricted rights to use the program content and materials wherever you choose to.

6. Drives Digital Engagement

Is the program structured to drive your website’s visitor engagement? More engagement adds up to more sales opportunities.

7. Respects Online Privacy and Safety

Does the program and the technology it utilizes respect user privacy, safety and security? Or does it include advertising, data tracking, data collection and other specious intent?

8. Regular Content Maintenance

Is the content regularly updated, adapted and supplemented with newly emerging financial topics?

Improving financial literacy for employees and members is a win-win for credit unions. Financially educated employees are better positioned to answer member questions and make referrals. Financially savvy members with improved financial decision-making and resilience are more profitable customers. And communities benefit when credit unions and schools partner to advance financial education.

Tim McAlpine is founder/CEO of Currency Marketing, a CUES Supplier member based in Chilliwack, British Columbia. Currency serves credit unions on a mission to improve financial well-being. Its financial literacy program It’s a Money Thing is built according to the recommendations above. If you’re a credit union looking at implementing a financial education program, consider It’s a Money Thing in your evaluation.

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