EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally appeared on CFED’s blog, The Inclusive Economy, which you can read here.

 This summer, as an Intern for CFED’s Savings and Financial Security team, I had the opportunity to develop, disseminate and analyze the 2013 IDA Program Survey. The annual survey provides key information regarding the IDA landscape, which CFED then shares with the field. It has also informed the way our organization provides services and supports IDA programs around the country. (Click here to see significant findings from the 2010-2011 IDA Program Survey.) As I expressed in my previous blog post, I believe whole-heartedly in IDAs and have enjoyed the opportunity to help strengthen and support the field. IDAs have great potential to help low-income families build assets and increase their financial stability.

The 2013 survey was fielded online from July 29 to August 16 to the IDA community via direct email messages to IDA programs, email communication to the IDA Network listserv, and promotion on CFED’s website and social media outlets. To incentivize completion, CFED entered practitioners who completed the survey into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. (Congratulations to our winner from the Minneapolis IDA Program!) After outreach and data cleaning was complete, 188 IDA programs were represented in the survey.

The survey results paint a picture of IDA programs that are providing a wealth of services to IDA participants and trying new, innovative ways to engage participants and help them save, while managing the impact of an overall decrease in funding. Here is a summary of the key findings for the 2013 IDA Program Survey:

  • Roughly one in three IDA programs has seen an overall dip in revenue in the past year (see figure below). This has increased from last year’s survey in which one in four IDA programs experienced an overall revenue decrease.
  • Federal funding (66%) remains the most common revenue stream for IDA programs. Private/Philanthropic (50%) is the second most common revenue stream for IDA programs.
  • IDA programs provide a rich variety of wraparound services to participants both in-house or through referrals to other local and community resources. The most common services offered in-house by IDA programs were: credit counseling (58%), tax preparation assistance (51%), homeownership counseling (51%) and rental assistance (42%).
  • Programs use innovative approaches to keep participants engaged. This includes assistance with other services, peer support groups, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and text messages.
  • Higher education has become a more frequent savings goal in the past year. Over a third (37%) of programs who allow savings for higher education report that it has become a more common goal for accountholders in the past 12 months. This change in asset focus may be indicative of the difficulty faced by low- and moderate-income participants in finding affordable homes and obtaining mortgages.

A PowerPoint presentation showing all the results can be found by clicking here and a one-pager summarizing the key findings of the 2013 IDA program survey can be found by clicking here.

Thank you to all the IDA practitioners who participated in the survey! Your thoughtful responses will allow us to serve the IDA field more comprehensively and effectively. Please comment below if there is information about the IDA field that you are interested in learning more about, and we will do our best to include it into next year’s survey.