Savers Win: Leveraging the Tax Time Moment to Boost Savings

“I usually never save my tax refund for anything,” says Jessica Butler, EARN’s Savers Win 2018 Grand Prize Winner. While tax season is one of the most important financial events of the year for America’s working families, most households have already decided where their refunds will be spent before they file. And understandably, savings is usually not on the top of the list.

To leverage the tax-time moment, EARN teamed up with non-profit Commmonwealth to launch Savers Win, a three-part campaign that used timely content and $15,000 in prizes to encourage savings behaviors in the 2018 tax season. Savers Win was generously supported by the Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation.

Savers Win encouraged Savers to save part of their tax refunds and asked them to pledge to save their refunds at the beginning of tax season. By taking the pledge and saving at least $50 of their tax refund, Savers had a chance to win weekly $100 prizes. One winner was Cynthia, a single mother in North Carolina who says that the Savers Win prizes motivated her to keep her refund in the bank.

Savers were also encouraged to submit a photo and story of “their motivation to save” for the $5,000 Grand Prize Story Contest. We surprised the winner, Jessica, at her home with a giant $5,000 check to celebrate her powerful story of saving. As a single mother of four children, it’s difficult to prioritize saving, but SaverLife “makes it a whole lot easier and fun.” Building her emergency fund helps Jessica feel more secure and “has boosted [her] confidence and self-respect.”

“I’m a living testimony. I’m a walking testimony that the program works, the program is real, and you do save.” – Jessica Butler, Grand Prize Winner

Lastly, Savers were encouraged to build upon their tax refund savings with Scratch and Save, an instant win game that they could play every week that they saved at least $5. Savers received digital scratch cards via email and “scratched” the image with their mouse to reveal whether they were one of the 100 $5 winners for that week. Scratch and Save ran for 10 weeks with 1,000 winners.

Savers Win leveraged EARN’s most valuable asset – a long-term trusted relationship with Savers – to promote saving at a critical time of the year. Building upon past interventions, Savers Win motivated positive actions at tax-time through a pledge, prizes, and an inspiring community. Of the over 9,000 households that pledged to save their refunds, 65% said they saved all or part of their refund. People who played Scratch and Save exhibited significant improvements in their savings behaviors compared to those who did not play.

We’re proud of our tax-time work in 2018 and looking forward to building upon our successes to encourage even more households to save in the 2019 tax season. Hear more about what we learned from the success of Savers Win at our upcoming webinar.

Megan is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at EARN, leading partnerships and product innovations to scale SaverLife nationally. Under her leadership, EARN has launched its first prize-linked savings program, scaled its work with employers, and adapted its savings program to serve America’s changing workforce.