An estimated 30 to 40 million American households are financially underserved. They lack access to the financial products and services that enable them to save, build assets, and achieve financial prosperity. Roughly half are unbanked, meaning they have no account with a bank or credit union. The rest are underbanked. They may have an account, but they turn to alternative providers such as check-cashers and payday lenders to meet everyday financial services needs.

A growing number of nonprofit organizations are working to promote the financial inclusion of the underbanked. With their direct access to and trusted relationships with these consumers, nonprofits are uniquely positioned to help advance the financial services marketplace by testing new products and/or educating and connecting consumers to financial services in innovative ways.

As the leading national expert on the unbanked and underbanked, the Financial Health Network is working to spur changes in the financial services industry by conducting research, providing thought leadership, building cross-sector relationships, and incubating new ideas. Since its inception, the Financial Health Network has competitively awarded seed funding to efficiently advance targeted innovation. The Financial Health Network’s experience has demonstrated that even small sums of money can bring about big change and generate valuable lessons on how to better serve underbanked consumers in ways that are responsible for the consumer and sustainable for the service provider. The 2008 Nonprofit Opportunities Fund was designed to support nonprofits in testing new models to provide financial services and asset-development opportunities to underbanked consumers.