Start A Bank On Program

The guidelines in the Start a Program section should serve as a step-by-step guide to developing a Bank On initiative. This information is based on the field experience and research of the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment, the National League of Cities, the New America Foundation and CFED. For more detailed information see the Bank On Cities Toolkit.

Six Core Components of a Successful Campaign

At the core, all Bank On programs share similar goals. However, every program works and operates differently; they are constantly evolving and developing innovative new ways to reach their goals. While acknowledging these differences, experts have identified six key factors to increase program success:

  1. Include local government leaders to add credibility to Bank On.
    The mayor or another prominent local official should serve as a champion of the initiative as they have the power to raise public awareness of the issues related to financial services and to bring local financial institutions and other partners to the table.
  2. Engage strong partnerships as the backbone of an effective Bank On initiative.
    No one entity can achieve success on its own. Community organizations have direct connections to the target populations. Financial institutions have the capacity to deliver low-cost financial products and services. City officials can serve as coordinators and conveners. Other community stakeholders can bring additional knowledge and resources to a Bank On program. Engage all of these to maximize the success of your program.
  3. Involve all partners early and often to plan your program.
    By bringing key partners together in the early planning stages, program leaders can draw on their expertise and facilitate buy-in, particularly among financial institutions.
  4. Develop a data collection strategy in the early stages of the initiative.
    Negotiate with financial institutions on how to report data on Bank On accounts and develop an evaluation component outside of the tracking conducted by financial institutions. The ability to measure the Bank On program’s impact is vital to its sustainability, continued involvement of partners, political viability and funding.
  5. Learn from programs across the country.
    There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Local officials should use resources, expertise and technical support from other organizations and cities that already have programs in place.
  6. Leverage your Bank On program into further financial empowerment efforts.
    By incorporating a Bank On initiative into a larger community asset-building agenda, cities not only help families open bank accounts, but also enable them to achieve long-term financial security.

Start a Program

While there is no one “right way” to create a Bank On program, the most successful programs generally followed the guidelines outlined in these pages. Each of the 12 sections offers practical information and advice for the early stages of creating a Bank On program, and for launching and sustaining the initiative. You can also consult the online discussions to identify more best practices from members of the national Bank On network. In addition, the National League of Cities is available to offer technical assistance to municipalities interested in developing or expanding a Bank On initiative. For more information, contact Heidi Goldberg or Denise Belser.

Step One: Partnerships
Step Two: Preliminary Research
Step Three: Steering Committee and Subcommittees
Step Four: Securing Funding
Step Five: Data Tracking and Reporting
Step Six: Product Development
Step Seven: Marketing and Outreach
Step Eight: Financial Education

Step Nine: Training and Customer Service
Step Ten: Launching and Sustaining a Bank On Program
Step Eleven: Developing a Broader Asset-Building Agenda
Step Twelve: A Case Study: Top Ten Lessons from Bank On San Francisco