Save to Win: Learnings

With the introduction of the Save to Win product in Michigan in 2009, credit unions have demonstrated that the possibility of winning – both a large $100,000 annual jackpot and a range of regularly awarded smaller prizes – does encourage people to save.

 After eleven months, more than 11,500 Michigan residents opened and saved $8.5 million in Save to Win PLS accounts. The project sponsors – Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund, the Filene Research Institute and the Michigan Credit Union League – have examined data from the initial year of the pilot and identified several important findings (CLICK HERE FOR FINAL REPORT):

  • Strong demand for PLS accounts exists among credit union members.
  • Saving balances grow over time, though growth slows as account age.
  • PLS products can attract financially vulnerable consumers, and positively impact their saving levels.
  • A “prize-linked” account attracts lottery players and may redirect lottery consumption into savings.
  • Certain PLS product features appear to attract first-time savers.
  • Monthly prizes have great potential to motivate individuals to save consistently.


In addition, the project’s sponsors have drawn several lessons from the Save to Win experience, including:

  • The public policy that allowed savings promotional raffles in Michigan works.
  • “Winning” is a powerful and motivating experience for savers and prospective savers.
  • A large headline prize matters.
  • The credit union industry is well suited to incubate and scale a prize-linked savings product.
  • Save to Win does an excellent job of getting the attention of both savers and non-savers, but further experimentation and study is needed to develop sustained, consistent savings habits among account holders.
  • Promoting a new PLS product requires a thoughtful marketing plan to generate excitement.
  • Credit unions that volunteered to offer Save to Win in 2009 have had positive experiences, as the CEOs of several institutions testify.

 The Save to Win program is now in its third year and D2D has continued to participate in the operations and conduct research to learn more about the impact and possibilities of the product. Through the summer and early fall of 2011, D2D will be releasing a series of papers that delve deeper into new PLS innovation and research, including:
• the results of a multi-state panel survey about consumer demand and preferences for PLS-based products,
• case studies of states where PLS legislation has passed,
• A white paper exploring D2D’s vision for “putting a game layer on savings” and prize-linked savings as a working example of “gamification,” and
• updated results and findings from the Save to Win 2010 experience in Michigan.

D2D’s PLS publications can be located by clicking here.