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REAL Solutions® Program

real solutions

What is the REAL Solutions® program?

Initiated in 2003 by The Wisconsin Credit Union League and the Filene Research Institute, Wisconsin’s present-day REAL Solutions® program has not only made a remarkable impact on public and policymaker perception of Wisconsin credit unions, but has also inspired credit unions across the state to maximize their structural potential and develop additional services to meet the needs of their members and communities. In sum, the REAL Solutions program: 

  • Identifies, encourages, and promotes programs, products, partnerships, and services provided by credit unions that improve the financial and economic well-being of Wisconsin families

  • Develops and facilitates programs, products, partnerships, and services for Wisconsin’s credit unions to better serve their members and retain talent

  • Champions and broadcasts the value of the credit union difference by emphasizing the real ways credit unions respond to and solve real member (and community at-large) problems 

The Impact of REAL Solutions

Over the past 15 years, the REAL Solutions program has proven itself time and again to play a critical role in the success enjoyed by credit unions and their members. Some metrics of that success include:

  • In 2018, a statewide consumer survey revealed that 79% of Wisconsinites approved of credit unions' corporate tax exemption, up from 45% in 2005 at the dawn of the program

  • Since 2005, statewide credit union membership has grown from 2 million to nearly 3.3 million

  • In a recent survey, 100% of credit union survey respondents indicated that they had provided service to a member who was rejected by a bank for the same service

  • The League's Saver's Sweepstakes® prize-linked savings program--launched in 2018--has already saved members over $2 million, with the majority being first-time savers 

Share Your REAL Solutions Stories

Instead of relying solely on easily forgotten figures and often-impersonal statistics, the REAL Solutions program collects and widely shares personal impact stories from Wisconsin's credit unions with policymakers and the public.

From accounts of above and beyond member service, to granted second chances, to responses to disaster, to meeting community needs, to returning funds back to their members through patronage, and more—these stories educate the public about their banking options and are vital in the fight to preserve the credit union difference.

In fact, lawmakers most often request these stories to illustrate to colleagues and constituents the unmatched value credit unions provide daily.  

These stories are shared annually at Convention and in our Wisconsin Credit Union Scorecard, as well as in face-to-face meetings with legislators and on social media. Check out the 2019 story collection.

"A member originally from the Dominican Republic came in wanting to buy his own car, as he lives far from his work and knew it would be a very cold walk in the winter.

We gave him a secured credit card, helped him get his name on an energy bill, and made a plan to save up half of the amount for the vehicle he wanted to purchase.

Eight months later, he was able to get approved for a loan for the other half, and, after driving to work in his warm car during -50° F Wisconsin weather, he shared, “I love you guys! This is the first time I’ve felt like I have a family and a community since I left home.”

- A REAL Solutions Story, shared by Fort Community Credit Union