Using a “Regret Raffle” to Encourage Family Engagement in the Fund My Future CSA Program
Every month, the Fund My Future Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program—which is open to all families in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania—conducts a raffle for families to win $50 or $1,000 for their children’s accounts. After drawing the winning tickets, staff members from Propel Schools, which runs Fund My Future, call the families that won.
But there’s a catch. In order to get the prize, the family must have made a deposit that month.
The idea behind this “regret raffle” is to tap into families’ sense that they have lost out when they learn that they could have won a prize had they made a deposit that month. In 2018 about 28% of CSA programs used some type of prize-linked savings initiative by which families can win prizes for adding to their accounts. In most programs, families receive an entry into the raffle drawing after showing they’ve made a savings deposit. Fund My Future, on the other hand, lets families know they have been selected for a prize before verifying if they’ve made a deposit.
The regret raffle encourages parents and caregivers to save into their CSA because of the chance to win the prize, according to Propel Schools Executive Director Jeremy Resnick. He said the raffle helps parents and caregivers develop a savings habit.
“Our belief is that when the parent makes the deposit, that is a critical step in building hope for the future,” Resnick said. “Our belief is that virtually all families can save and want to save. All we’re trying to do is make savings fun, top of mind and a little bit easier.”
One parent enrolled in Fund My Future, Kiara, won the raffle this past January. But she hadn’t made a deposit, and her daughter lost out on the prize money. When February rolled around, Kiara got another call. She had won the raffle again.
“This time I was able to claim the full prize since the account was open and a deposit was made,” she said. “I realized [making a deposit] was something I needed to do, and it made me question what I was waiting for. It has been amazing to me as a parent for accountability.”
Resnick said that the regret raffle offers numerous benefits for its CSA program. For one, it is more inclusive because families don’t need to make a large deposit to be eligible for the $1,000 prize. In fact, families can make a deposit of just $1 to be eligible for the monthly raffle. Savings matches, on the other hand, benefit families with higher incomes more because those families can save higher amounts and earn more matches.
Resnick said that the raffle also reduces administrative burden for the program. “We’re not sending you a ticket after you made a deposit,” he said. “We’re sending everybody a ticket. We don’t know if you made a deposit yet. We don’t have to keep track of accounts for matches. Everything is coming without that huge overhead.”
The biggest challenge Propel Schools has is helping families from low-income backgrounds set up their savings account, Resnick said. Propel Schools works with partner agencies already serving families with low incomes—including YWCA, South Hills Interfaith Movement and family support centers affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh—to help families open accounts.
“Often times, this is the first savings account families have set up,” Resnick said. “That’s where our work with partner agencies is critical.”
About 25% of program participants make a deposit into their account in any given month, Resnick said. But he said that it’s not the same 25% every month and he is encouraged by the number of low-and moderate-income families participating.
“We’re showing that if you create the right ecosystem and keep it top of mind, people will save,” he said.
For more information about CSA initiatives nationwide, visit savingsforkids.org.