Building Assets for the Rural Future

Improving Financial Resilience

Improving Financial Resilience

Financial resilience refers to a community’s or an individual’s ability to take advantage of growth and development opportunities as they appear, as well as to weather difficult times. This resilience depends upon the store of financial capital upon which a community can draw to build public infrastructure, to start or expand business ventures, and to support civic or social entrepreneurship. Sources of financial capital range from the monetary resources of local institutions—such as banks, charitable foundations, and governments—to the earning power and savings of local residents themselves. Efforts to increase financial capital in a community must therefore be directed at both the community level and the individual level. 

At the community level, low-wealth communities have formed community philanthropic foundations in hopes of tapping into the charitable spirit and combined wealth of current and former residents who hold a close connection to the community and wish to see the community maintained or improved (Harness Rural Local Philanthropy).

For individuals, the benefits of asset accumulation include increased educational attainment, better health outcomes, and increased local civic participation, among others.[1]  Five individual-level tactics were identified. First, community leaders have worked to make conventional banking services available to individuals who would otherwise lose wealth to unconventional or predatory lenders (Encourage Mainstream Banking for the Unbanked and Under-banked).  Second, several organizations have taken unique approaches to financial education in order to prevent losses of individual wealth resulting from poor or uninformed financial decision-making (Provide Financial Education, Counseling & Coaching). The third tactic involves offering free tax preparation services to ensure that wage earners on the economic margin collect their tax refunds and avoid high-fee refund anticipation loans (Turn Tax Refunds into Savings through Free or Inexpensive Tax Preparation for the Working Poor).  The fourth tactic, which is sometimes offered in conjunction with tax preparation, builds the savings of low-income families by offering matched savings accounts for buying a home, attending school, or starting a business (Sponsor Individual Development Accounts & Child Development Accounts). The fifth individual-level tactic attempts to minimize financial losses associated with personal vehicle ownership (Control Expenses Related to Personal Vehicles).

[1] Edward Scanlon & Deborah Page-Adams, Effects of Asset-Holding on Neighborhoods, Families, and Children: A Review of Research in Building Assets – A Report on the Asset-Development and IDA Field 25-50 (Ray Boshara ed., 2001);  Deborah Page-Adams & Michael Sherraden, What we Know About Effects of Asset Holding: Implications for Research on Asset-Based Anti-Poverty Initiatives (1996).

Topics - Local and State Government