Service Banking Credit Program in Seattle Attracts Too Few Volunteers

From 1996 to 1998, staff at Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound (GHC) created SerVE, a service credit banking program aimed at attracting individuals who might not typically volunteer but who saw a tangible benefit in the opportunity to build credits.

Service credit banking programs seek to help elderly people remain healthy, independent, and in their homes by enlisting volunteer caregivers to provide supportive services, such as transportation, medication monitoring, shopping and light housekeeping. As an incentive, each caregiver receives credits that can be redeemed for similar volunteer services.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Service Credit Banking in Managed Care national program.

Key Results

  • In response to a variety of efforts to recruit volunteers, more than 400 people expressed an interest in participating in the SerVE program, but only about 70 actually became volunteers.
  • SerVE staff found that the concept of banking credits did not prove to be a successful tool with which to build the number of volunteers.