It all started with scribbled notes on the back of a napkin. As a financial coaching organization led by experienced frontline practitioners, we were all too aware of the gaps programs face that can take precious time away from serving customers, such as finding access to the resources and answers that customers need to succeed or effectively tracking data to discover patterns and improve services. Then the ‘aha’ moment: We could leverage the innovation of financial technology to boost nonprofit missions and outcomes! Thus, Change Machine was born. A dynamic, web-based financial coaching platform, Change Machine contains all the tools and resources practitioners need to address their customers’ underlying financial insecurity. It bridges the gap for financial coaching services in three crucial ways:
- Meeting Coaches Where They Are
Change Machine provides a one-stop-shop for practitioners, whether they are brand new to financial coaching or a seasoned professional looking to refresh and expand their skills. The LEARN portal features self-paced lessons and quizzes that start with the basics and build out into a ‘choose your own adventure’ course of specializations. Plus, we hold monthly virtual trainings to dig further into specialty skills and specific sectors. When meeting with a customer, coaches can instantly access over 150 tipsheets and worksheets through the Toolbox to guide customers through their unique financial insecurities — from identity theft to student loans to filing taxes and more. It’s as easy as typing in the issue area and sending it to the printer! (P.S. Download a selection of free tools here)
- The “D” Word
Data management can be intimidating, time-consuming, and yet necessary for fundraising. It is also an important element when trying to improve service delivery and programming. It doesn’t matter how big or small your organization is, Change Machine makes data management easy and painless. Data is collected organically in coaching meetings through COACH’s intake process and customer management portal. Outcomes are tracked in six areas: assets, banking, credit, debt, taxes, and (most importantly) goals. Then, MANAGE gives supervisors special access to slice and dice customer and staff data with both out of the box and custom reporting capabilities. As one client explains, “Our staff recognizes that for us to be sustainable as an organization, we need to demonstrate the value of our services. Change Machine provided us with a platform to really track what the financial impact on our participants’ personal finances is – and that was hugely valuable. Without that, you’re just making the qualitative argument as to the quality of the service you’re providing.” (Alex Breen, Senior Associate, Seedco)
- Connecting Coaches, Near and Far
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” Or a lot. Financial coaches are amazingly versatile in their ability to support customers in any area where they find a financial barrier. Yet, there was no way to apply that knowledge to the field broadly. Until now! Change Machine’s SHARE is an online community of over 1,000 practitioners nationwide. Financial coaches can get their toughest questions answered, share best practices and pertinent news, and celebrate success stories.
Financial coaches deserve the same level of support that they provide to their customers every day. Change Machine seamlessly bridges skills training with data collection with service delivery with a strong community of practice. We give coaches and programs the freedom to concentrate on what really matters — building financial security for themselves and their communities.
Guest Contributor: The Financial Clinic