Call me sentimental, but it is after all Valentine’s Day, which has me thinking about sweet things. Sweet is a word that speaks volumes, and not just about food. So, here’s a sweet idea for shaking free of the winter doldrums and jumpstarting customer engagement: a mobile RDC depositor sweepstakes.

Sweepstakes are gaining traction as a tool for encouraging consumers to save more. Doorways to Dreams (D2D), an incubator of novel ideas associated with Harvard University, has been working with several credit unions on sweepstakes-style initiatives known as prized-linked savings programs. The idea is to promote savings as fun, and rewarding; members are entered into raffles every time they make deposits into specific savings instruments (such as a one-year certificate). An initial run of Save to Win, in 2011, stoked $8.6 million in savings deposits from more than 11,600 credit union members in just one year, according to D2D.

We know intuitively that savings is a prerequisite for both financial and personal security. Plus, there are indications that Americans are saving more. The U.S. Department of Commerce, for example, reports that the personal savings rate rose from 3.6% in September 2012 to 6.5% in December 2012.

But did you know that each year hundreds of financial institutions, government agencies and others come together in a weeklong push to encourage savings? The initiative, America Saves Week, runs from February 25 through March 2, 2013 and is described as an opportunity for organizations to promote the benefits of saving and encourage people to build wealth. Several sweepstakes have been announced already in tandem with America Saves Week, including a first-ever sweepstakes sponsored by the Filene Research Institute in Madison, WI. That sweepstakes encourages tax filers who are over 18 to set aside $50 from their tax refunds in a savings account in exchange for a shot at $35,000 in prizes.

There’s only 10 days left for interested organizations to sign on to America Saves Week, but that should not keep financial services companies from taking a cue from this initiative and coming up with programs of their own to boost customer savings, if not this month, in the months ahead. Here are a few ideas based on suggestions offered by America Saves ( that can be used now or in the future and be tied in with remote deposit.

  • Leverage social media. If you have a FaceBook page, give a pitch to AmericaSaves on your page.
  • You can also use social media sites to post messages to customers encouraging them to open or add to a savings account at any time, not just next week. Here’s where you might consider a prized-linked savings initiative.
  • Hold motivational seminars, financial education sessions or other activities that encourage customers to save, and to use RDC when depositing checks into their savings accounts. We know from experience that there are billions of checks written and cashed each year that cannot easily be moved to electronic payments. I’m talking here about checks given as gifts, or exchanged between friends; rebate checks; and paychecks that are issued to an estimated 40 million American workers who have no access to Direct Deposit. Encouraging customers to remotely deposit these checks is good for them and good for financial institutions.
  • Promote RDC as a tool to help consumers save more on everyday expenses, which in turn will allow them to put more money into savings accounts. With gas costing over $3.50 a gallon in most states, making a quick run to a bank or credit union to make a deposit becomes a costly proposition; RDC eliminates that cost.

Saving money…now that’s sweet.