Credit Building Nation conducted a survey in late 2020 of organizations providing credit building services to understand the effect of the COVID pandemic on organizations and clients. Survey highlights include:
- 89% of organizations have adapted their 1-1 sessions to be virtual using tools such as zoom. However, the majority (81%) have experienced challenges with virtual sessions. A comment by survey respondents illustrate the technology challenges. “The digital gap is the most important challenge that we face since the pandemic started.”
- Clients have an increased interest in savings and an increased understanding of the importance of credit and savings. This points to a real opportunity for a credit building program that includes a savings component.
- Credit builder loans were the product that respondents were most likely to connect clients to and yet only 40% of respondents report that their organizations offer products directly.
- Organizations are being stretched and challenged to assist vulnerable populations who need emergency assistance. There is extra demand being placed on organizations and reduced bandwidth to help clients who are struggling. “Our agency has been receiving a number of inquires from individuals in need of food and rental Assistance.”
Tamra Thetford, JP’s Chief Program Officer presented on the Credit Builders Alliance webinar: The Mechanics of Credit Builder Loans. Credit Builder Loans (CBLs) are unique in the small dollar lending world. Secured by the loan proceeds with no money exchanged up front, they have the sole purpose of helping people (re)build credit. CBLs are a credit building stepping stool and gateway to other financial products. Tamra shared Justine PETERSEN’s experience offering credit builder loans with other nonprofits and our lessons are included in CBA’s Credit Builder Loan Toolkit.
Justine PETERSEN’s efforts to integrate credit building with small business and consumer lending contributed to research conducted by FUND CI in partnership with Credit Builders Alliance: “Bending Toward Justice: Credit Scores as a Measure of CDFI Impact.” Justine PETERSEN’s experience and outcomes providing credit builder loans to their own clients and to the clients of over 100 partners in 22 states through Credit Building Nation were included in the research. Tamra Thetford, JP’s Chief Program Officer also served on the advisory board of the research.
Since 2012, Justine PETERSEN has been the financial partner with LISC on their Twin Account credit builder product for clients of the Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) Network. In LISC’s paper, “Loan Products for Credit-Building,” researchers compare the outcomes of Twin Accounts borrowers with other FOC clients who did not open Twin accounts. Participants in Twin Accounts had double the credit score gain of non-participants in Twin Accounts and were more than twice as likely to gain a score and keep it. On average, Twin Accounts participants increased their credit score by 35 points, compared to a 10 point increase for non-borrowers.