Feb 17, 2017

Change Machine: The Perfect Fit

Posted by Kristen McGuire

What's Your Change Machine?

We want to help you find the ideal balance of Change Machine's available platforms that fits in with your program design. Our varied subscription levels ensure you have the resources you need to complete your unique vision of social service. Read below to learn how Wesley Mission Center, LIFT-DC, and University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP) are making the most of their Change Machine subscriptions - you may be inspired by a new idea for using the platform, we know we were!

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Nov 04, 2016

Introducing the all-new Help Center

Posted by Clement Chan

We've splashed a fresh coat of paint on the Help Center, a self-service resource for users of Change Machine!

Not only is it speedier, it's now easier than ever to get an immediate answer to something you need help with. Use the search bar at the top of the Help Center, type in a search term, and watch as the relevant articles get pulled up.

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Oct 14, 2016

Happy National Financial Goal Day!

Posted by Kristen McGuire

Why National Financial Goal Day?

Did you know that customers who achieve their financial goal are 4.5 times more likely to achieve a financial security outcome?! 

Last year on National Financial Goal Day, we launched Change Machine - this year we celebrate the goals it has helped create: nearly 400 Clinic customers have achieved their financial goals, with a 15% improvement in cash-value returned!  

Click below to hear a special National Financial Goal Day message from Clinic Founder and CEO, Mae Watson Grote: 

                      Screen_Shot_2016_10_13_at_2.59.41_PM.png

Comment below and join us through the day on SHAREFacebook, and Twitter for a virtual party! Don't forget to register your goal - the contest ends today! 

                  

Sep 23, 2016

Change Machine 3.5

Posted by Clement Chan

Fall is officially here, and with it, brings us one step closer to tax time.

We're excited to announce the launch of the Tax Refund Analyzer (in beta), which can be found in the Taxes tab in COACH!

The analyzer helps to identify customers who may be phased out of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC).

By entering your customers' past tax return information into the analyzer, your customer will then know when they may be disqualified for the EITC and CTC, and better plan for their future.

This new release also includes general bug fixes to improve your Change Machine experience, and will be rolled out automatically to all users on Monday, Sep 26, 2016.

Sep 14, 2016

10,000 Users on Change Machine!

Posted by Nicole Dewey

In anticipation of our upcoming one year anniversary of launching Change Machine, we just wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have joined us on this journey so far.  Because of you, we've reached our original goal of reaching 10,000 users on Change Machine!  This is a huge milestone for us, and we couldn't have done it without you.  

Please join us as we get ready for our next annual #MyFinancialGoal campaign by registering with the link below and sharing your goals on Facebook, Twitter and Share.  (Fun fact: You'll also be entered to win $100 and $50 Amazon Gift Cards, tote bags and more!)

Everyone has a financial goal.  What's yours?

https://change-machine.org/eve...

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Aug 22, 2016

Change Machine 3.4 - Maintenance and Bug Fixes

Posted by Clement Chan

It's summertime, and it's time to keep bugs at bay!

The Change Machine team is committed to continually improve the platform. Your feedback to us has been invaluable, many of which have been included in this latest maintenance release.

With a tech support median response time of 5 minutes in the last 3 months, rest assured that we read each feedback closely. So don't hesitate to reach out to us via the tech support conversation bubble (or email us at support@change-machine.org) if you run into any issues!

This new release includes bug fixes and enhancements to improve your experience on Change Machine, and will be rolled out automatically to all users on Monday, August 22, 2016.

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Jul 26, 2016

Change Machine 3.3

Posted by Clement Chan

By popular demand from our users, Change Machine Release 3.3 makes the COACH platform area more accessible to Spanish-speaking customers.

This new release will be available to all users on Monday, July 25, 2016.

Change Machine 3.3 Highlights

  • Language Preference: You are now able to set a language preference between English or Spanish for each customer in COACH.
  • Spanish Action Plan: The Action Plan you know and love in COACH is now also available in Spanish! 
  • Spanish Dynamic Worksheet Printouts: Information that you enter into the COACH dynamic worksheets in the Goals, Assets, Banking, Credit, Debt, and Taxes tabs can now also be printed in Spanish! You may print these as a summary for your customer on what you've worked on together with them during a session.
  • Simplified Income Worksheet: On the Income dynamic worksheet, income sources are now reorganized into two major categories: Income and Income Supports. Similar to the existing Expenses dynamic worksheet, these sections are collapsible to focus on the income types you are working on. 
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Jun 13, 2016

Change Machine 3.2

Posted by Clement Chan

It's time for Change Machine release 3.2!

This release focuses on improving COACH and how you work with customers on Change Machine. These enhancements are available on Monday, June 13, 2016!

Change Machine 3.2 Highlights

  • Intake Enhancements: We've improved the intake interface when adding new customers to COACH, integrated demographics fields into the process, and made demographics fields customizable for your program! You can also now re-open the intake tabs from the Customer Details tab. Contact us to customize demographics for your program or opt out of demographics tracking. 
  • Action Plan Enhancements: From the Action Plan, you can now easily access relevant tipsheets and worksheets directly to support a specific coaching action. You can also conveniently jump to a dynamic worksheet tab from a relevant action tile (i.e. from Identify Goals on the Action Plan to the Goals worksheet to enter a new goal.)
  • Meetings Tab Enhancements: The Meetings tab is a record of all interactions with your customer. With the new release, you'll never forget to add a new meeting or activate an old meeting again! Helpful alerts have been implemented to guide you through the process.
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Jun 10, 2016

4 FinTech Startups Helping Customers Achieve Financial Security

Posted by Clement Chan

This month, we're focusing on all things related to fintech!

A portmanteau of financial technology, fintech is often described as being disruptive to the traditional financial services industry. As technology continues to improve our lives, the same cannot be said with the gargantuan maze that is the traditional bank's backend systems.

Change Machine is an example of a fintech platform, whose focus is making financial coaching easier for practitioners. As social service agencies continue to embed financial coaching into their services (for instance, for groups advocating for domestic violence survivors, formerly incarcerated people, job-seekers, the undocumented, and more), the more working poor individuals can be positively impacted and in turn, achieve financial security.

We're not the only ones using fintech to improve other people's lives. Here are some of our compatriots:

Acorns

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May 26, 2016

2016 User Feedback Results

Posted by Clement Chan

Our users have spoken.

In our 2nd annual survey, financial coaches and managers alike generously shared their feedback about Change Machine. Practitioners mentioned that our content in LEARN helped them to prepare for financial coaching, how COACH eased their coaching sessions, yet others love how they can ask coaching questions to an entire community of professionals on SHARE.

Let's take a peek at what some users have said:

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Apr 20, 2016

Change Machine 3.1

Posted by Clement Chan

We're excited to kick off Change Machine's development in 2016 with Release 3.1!

We’ve been hard at work improving the core infrastructure that runs Change Machine. This sets up the platform to run more efficiently with even fewer bugs, while preparing ourselves for an exciting year of new development.

This new release will be available to all users on Monday, May 9, 2016.

While much of this work is on the backend, there are also a few new features on the frontend for all of you!

Change Machine 3.1 Highlights

  • SHARE Redesign: We're propelling ourselves to the future! Your SHARE experience has been reimagined with a beautiful, modern user interface, allowing you to ask questions and view discussions easier than before.
  • Mixed Access Levels: Organizations can now have users with various access levels on the same organizational account! While previously this was not possible, you can now have any combination of Basic, Community, Coach, and Manager access levels in a single organization.
  • Collaborate on Customers Across Organizations: Do you have partner organizations on Change Machine as well? Now, customers can be handed off from one organization to another to receive all the services that they need! The receiving organization will then have access to information that has already been entered, allowing them to immediately get the fullest picture of the customer.
  • Customer Management: For those with access to COACH, working with customers has never been easier. In this release, we've re-enabled the automatic duplicate customer check, restored the ability to delete customer records and made it easier to change the Primary Coach.
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Jan 28, 2016

Identity Theft: Tools, Tips and Strategies

Posted by Jerin Arifa

January 25-29 is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, hosted by the Federal Trade Commission. We are grateful FTC is bringing attention to this important issue. We were honored that a special guest presenter from FTC joined the Credit Builders Alliance and The Financial Clinic to discuss best practices and answer questions on identity theft. View the presentation here.

FTC just announced the launch of IdentityTheft.gov – the federal government’s free, one-stop resource to help people fix problems caused by identity theft – now making it easier for victims of identity. 

Dec 18, 2015

Change Machine 3.0

Posted by Saul Miller

Hi there Change Machine Community!

After more than a year of development, Change Machine 3.0 is here! It will be available to all users on Monday, December 21, 2015.

Change Machine 3.0 Highlights

  • Manager Portal MANAGE: Formerly called the Manager Portal, the special area of Change Machine that supports managers and network users with program management and evaluation has been totally redone. Check out MANAGE with guided organization setup checklists, Manager Toolbox, and dedicated Data Portal.
  • LEARN Badges and Certificates: Your hard work on the quizzes in LEARN deserves to be recognized. Now, you can show off your new financial coaching knowledge with a printable certificate and an acknowledgement on your LinkedIn profile.
  • COACH Dashboard and Metrics: New charts and statistics provide coaches with insights into their caseload and performance. Reporting is no longer just for managers!
  • Customer Collaboration: Collaborating with your colleagues has never been smoother. Change Machine now makes it easy to see who is a customer's primary coach and who the customer met with at each meeting.
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Oct 20, 2015

Why We Built Change Machine

Posted by Becky Smith

I’ll never forget my first day in the field: April 14, 2008.

I was at a credit union in the South Bronx and it was the second to last day of tax season. It was my first time leading a coaching session and I was understandably nervous. When my first customer arrived at the reception desk, I grabbed a blank action plan, pulled up my favorite bankrate.com calculator, and took a deep breath.

Little did I know then that over the next seven years I’d be training staff and leadership teams from social and human services all across the country to conduct their own financial coaching sessions. My firsthand experiences combined with conversations I've had with hundreds of practitioners over the years revealed how widespread the challenges are for people and programs to be successful. Three of the foremost challenges I have encountered over the last seven years are:

Challenge #1: “Knight in Shining Armor” Syndrome

The first challenge is what I like to call the “knight in shining armor” syndrome. We fall into the trap of thinking if we do not know ALL of the answers right NOW, we have somehow failed to serve our customers. The truth is, there is so much information out there that changes all the time, not to mention that each person’s life is unique and complex. Not every obstacle requires the same action plan to overcome it. Also, as coaches, we are working with customers to achieve behavior change. The reality is: Change takes time. So no need to charge in on a white horse.

Challenge #2: Program Implementation Paralysis

Programs struggle to identify the “right” training, the “right” curriculum, the “right” tools, the “right” outcomes to measure… and when they make one or even all four of these decisions... they often still struggle with the “right” staffing configuration and the “right” tracking system. What compounds the problem further is that even with the most perfectly executed implementation plan, nonprofits often experience high turnover. I’ve seen many instances of the financial coaching supports leave with the staff that were trained to provide those services. Organizations need a more accessible and sustainable way to incorporate financial security strategies into their programs.

Challenge #3: “Alone on an Island” Effect

An overlooked challenge I often see (and experienced) is that discussing money is still a social taboo. The discomfort factor that many of us feel about our own personal finances is very real, and this can create a serious barrier to putting financial coaching strategies into practice with customers. Practitioners need to plug into a network that destigmatizes this issue and makes financial conversations less daunting. By providing an outlet for practitioners to easily reach one another for support and encouragement, practitioners grow confidence in incorporating sensitive financial discussions into their work with customers too!

These problems are real, but they are not insurmountable.

We built Change Machine to bring together all of our institutional knowledge and best practices about how to address the challenges that I experienced in the field along with my fellow coaches and dozens of our nonprofit partners. Three of the top reasons we stayed motivated over the last four years to build Change Machine are:

Reason #1: Stronger Coaching Relationships

We built Change Machine to better serve coaches and practitioners everywhere. There is tremendous excitement about the power of using a “coaching” approach with customers, and Change Machine provides the tools that make financial coaching come to life. The platform arms coaches to identify decision making moments that leverage the information they uncover in a meeting and puts “bumper lanes” in place to ease stressful sessions. Practitioners have a mega-resource at their fingertips ㄧ a coaching companion ㄧ to support customers to achieve their goals through personal commitments and action planning that sticks.

Solution #2: Stronger Programs

We built Change Machine to better serve programs far and wide. Change Machine houses a financial security framework that has been rigorously evaluated and promotes lasting behavior change. We wanted to make real-time information accessible to everyone at the organization so teams are not only focused on using data to increase funding opportunities, but to have robust conversations and water-cooler chats about their compelling customer stories. Programs are one-click away from data and metrics designed to provide practical insights and actionable information to ultimately improve services.

Solution #3: A Stronger Field

Change Machine is built by practitioners for practitioners. It represents the field of professionals on the frontlines of poverty alleviation efforts. We built Change Machine to better serve our fast-growing field of practitioners and elevate their voices. Change Machine is not only a peer-to-peer support system, but the conversations that take place can inform research, as well as fuel policy and advocacy efforts.

4 years in software development, 10 years in the making!

Last week marked a very special milestone in The Financial Clinic’s history: The public launch of Change Machine. We thought the best way to celebrate was to declare October 15th – exactly six months before “tax day” – as National Financial Goal Day. Financial goals are the single-most powerful indicator of whether the Clinic is accomplishing its mission, so the day also marks the launch of a movement that captures the very essence of our work and what Change Machine is all about!

- Becky Smith, Director of Strategic Initiatives, The Financial Clinic

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Oct 12, 2015

Change Machine Release 2.9

Posted by Saul Miller

Hi there Change Machine Community!

With Change Machine Release 2.9, getting started on Change Machine has never been easier. It will be available to all users on Monday, October 12th, 2015.

Change Machine Release 2.9 Highlights

  • Getting Started Checklist: A personalized checklist guides you through the first steps of success on Change Machine. Will you check them all?
  • Top Groups and Top Topics: New Group and Topic summary pages in SHARE highlight the groups and topics
  • New Profile Page: Your profile is your face in the Change Machine Community. Upload a profile picture and let the community know who you are.
  • New COACH Design: We refreshed the customer intake process and customer dashboard designs.
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Oct 11, 2015

10/15/15: National Financial Goal Day and Change Machine Public Launch

Posted by Jerin Arifa

Everyone has a financial goal. What’s yours?

On 10/15/15, The Financial Clinic will host the first Annual National Financial Goal Day, a celebration across America to launch financial goals! The celebration coincides with the public launch of Change Machine, and will feature events online and in-person.

All changemakers who register for an event will receive a FREE Community License on Change Machine through the end of the year. Details below.

By dedicating a day to encourage and celebrate individual goals collectively as a nation, National Financial Goal Day has the potential to help millions build financial security by addressing their immediate financial challenges and helping them set long-term goals to achieve financial mobility. You can RSVP for one of our National Financial Goal Day parties in:

  • Dallas, TX
  • Hawaii
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Madison, WI
  • New York City, NY
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Virtual (Everywhere!)

  • The Financial Clinic advocates that no financial goal is too big or small. With over a decade of experience empowering thousands to achieve their goals, the Clinic has seen firsthand the value of goal setting in building financial security and improving financial mobility--Clinic customers have set hundreds of financial goals to save over $42,821,199 in resources and assets. Having actionable financial goals are the driver to moving from financial insecurity to lasting financial security.

    The Community License provides access to a professional, social network connecting practitioners to a peer-to-peer support system of front-line staff, advocates, supervisors and financial coaching thought leaders. Enjoy 24/7 access to a network of colleagues with a shared passion for improving their customer’s financial security. Post your questions and comments. Give and get actionable advice.

    Visit here to learn more about The Financial Clinic. The financial coaching strategies on Change Machine have been rigorously tested, showing significant evidence of impact. In short, financial coaching helps build financial security.

    No matter where you are, we encourage you to develop a financial goal and LAUNCH it on 10/15/15.

    Sep 07, 2015

    Change Machine Release 2.8

    Posted by Saul Miller

    Hi there Change Machine Community!

    The newest Change Machine release introduces a customized landing page for all users and new levels of customer tracking in COACH. It will be available on Monday, September 7th, 2015.

    Change Machine Release 2.8 Highlights

    • Landing Page: A single location to easily access all the important features of Change Machine. Browse important announcements, complete lessons in LEARN, ask a question in SHARE, or create a new customer profile in COACH, all from one place!
    • Meeting Notes: Enter high level session notes for each meeting on the Meetings Tab in COACH.
    • Track Customer Referrals: Does your organization have referral partners? Organizations can now customize your list of referral partners in the Manager Portal and track customer referrals using the Referrals Tab in COACH.
    • Financial Capability Scale Survey: Change Machine has long had the FCS survey integrated into COACH. Now you can manually add a survey during any customer meeting and receive automatic prompts for follow-up surveys every three months.
    • New Manager Tools - Customer Baseline Reports: Measure and communicate the scale and impact of your programs by tracking changes to key customer financial metrics (asset balances, income, banking costs, credit scores and debt) in the Manager Portal.
    Read More
    Jul 24, 2015

    Change Machine Release 2.7

    Posted by Saul Miller

    Hi there Change Machine Community!

    The Change Machine Help Center is here! Release 2.7 takes Change Machine technical support to a new level by introducing the Help Center and more. This is the second release in a series of five releases leading up to Change Machine's public launch in October.

    The new release is available to all users on Monday, July 27th, 2015. Please review the release details below to familiarize yourself with the improvements.

    Change Machine Release 2.7 Highlights

    • New Help Center: A dedicated site with instructional guides, how-to videos and upcoming community trainings.
    • Enhanced Customer Reporting: Managers can now easily measure customer asset balances, income, banking costs, credit score and total debt changes.
    • Clock Your Meetings: You can now keep track of time spent on the various sections in each meeting.
    • Enhancements and Bug Fixes: Improving Change Machine throughout the platform. Thanks for all of the feedback!
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    Jun 05, 2015

    Change Machine Release 2.6

    Posted by Saul Miller

    Hi there Change Machine Community!

    We're excited to share Change Machine Release 2.6 with all of you. This release will deliver a new level of tech support features and improvements to the COACH section of Change Machine. This is the first release in a series of five releases leading up to Change Machine's public launch in October.

    The new release is available to all users on Monday, June 8th, 2015. Please review the release details below to familiarize yourself with the improvements. Register Here for a virtual Q&A event on Thursday, June 11th at 3pm ET.

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    May 07, 2015

    Change Machine User Feedback Results

    Posted by Saul Miller

    “I am more confident helping clients with financial goals and questions. The lessons [gave] me confidence to assist them in banking and tax planning…weak areas for me prior.” – program manager

    “It has made data entry time a lot shorter for me.” – financial coach

    “I can contact Change Machine to ask questions, particularly deal with legal issues and standards dealing with credit repair….” – financial coach

    “I love having access to up-to-date, quality content in form of tip sheets. I never wanted to… [have] copies and copies of resources…[on] my desk…it's all in Change Machine...” – social worker

    “I really enjoy the networking aspect of Change Machine because it allows you to connect with other professionals who have resources that you may not yet have.” – financial coach

    “It has supported…establishing financial safety with the survivors I work with…allowing them to see their progress and develop…ways to budget themselves regardless of their income…” – domestic violence case manager

    We recently asked Change Machine users how we were doing and the results were overwhelming. We heard from the broad range of professionals that Change Machine supports: financial coaches, domestic violence advocates, workforce development specialists, industry experts and more. The quotes offer an illustration of how Change Machine is making “all the difference” in the way front-line staff is implementing financial development strategies nationwide.

    Expert support, reliability, decreased time for data entry and increased knowledge and confidence were just a few of the reasons Change Machine users gave us a 90 percent approval rating, eager to recommend us to others. As one financial coach put it, “Change Machine is a revolutionary tool that not only helps Financial Counselors but also participants as a whole.” Many practitioners highlighted how the online platform allowed them to “provide more services and resources to educate not just my clients but myself to take better financial decisions.” Participants love the “clean and user-friendly interface,” noting how “having…specific information sorted by subject areas has saved…time,” and “the printouts…are easy to understand as well as explain.” Supervisors expressed how well Change Machine tracks “each encounter with clients and the support they receive from staff.” One program manager is so excited about the “groundbreaking tools” that she plans to use Change Machine quizzes as a part of her new hire’s training.

    Our users’ feedback is crucial to us as Change Machine continues to grow. In just a two-week period, over 60 Change Machine users completed an online survey covering everything from training, technical support, features and ease of use. The response represented 30% of our most active users!

    Congratulations to our winners Mario Gutierrez of New York Legal Assistance Group, Courtney Hammond of Amity Foundation, Teresa Jackson of Sharing Life Outreach, and Daniel Townsend of Doe Fund who each received a $40 Amazon gift card for their participation.

    While the vast majority of feedback was positive, there are always areas that we can improve. We have an aggressive development schedule ahead of us in the next six months to continue to make Change Machine the best it can be. We will be rolling out new Change Machine releases every two months, addressing many of the challenges that our users reported. As we approach the public launch in October, look out for a new user help center and enhanced user supports. We will also be increasing the level of Change Machine customizability and enhancing LEARN, COACH, SHARE and the Manager Portal.

    Whether through tech support, the Ideas Group or an email to members@change-machine.org, please keep the feedback coming. It’s an exciting time here at The Financial Clinic and we cannot wait to share Change Machine 3.0 with all of you.

    Mar 16, 2015

    Change Machine Release 2.5

    Posted by Saul Miller

    Hi there Change Machine Community!

    After a few quiet months of smaller maintenance releases, we are happy to share Release 2.5 with all of you. This most recent round of improvements focused on the COACH section of Change Machine.

    The new release is available to all users as of Monday, March 16th, 2015. Please review the release details below. We look forward to hearing your feedback in the Change Machine Community Group. Just tag your comments with the topic "Release 2.5".

    Like what you see but don't have Enterprise access yet? Contact us today at members@change-machine.org to discuss a subscription upgrade.

    Read More
    Oct 28, 2014

    Change Machine Release 2.4

    Posted by Saul Miller

    Hi Change Machine Community!

    We are so excited to share Change Machine Release 2.4 with you. This release includes updates in every part of Change Machine. The Learn section has been totally redesigned, there is a brand new Toolbox in Coach, and even Share has a fresh look!

    It is available to all users as of Monday, October 27th, 2014. For those of you with Learn and Coach access, be sure to watch the training videos below to familiarize yourself with the changes. We look forward to hearing how you like the new release in the Change Machine Community Group.

    Read More
    Jul 02, 2014

    Exciting Coach Changes Released 6/26/2014

    Posted by Saul Miller

    Hey Everyone!

    We are excited to share some big updates to the Coach section of Change Machine. There are updates to some areas you are familiar with and brand new interactive worksheets to use with your customers.  For those of you with Coach access, please watch the training videos to familiarize yourself with the updates.

    Read More
    Jan 30, 2014

    New Year, New Features

    Posted by Keith Mancuso

    Every time I sit down to write about a new release I find myself saying, "This is our biggest release to date" and this one is no exception!

    This release has new features in every section of the site, including this blog you're reading right now.

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    Aug 26, 2013

    Introduction: How to Use Share

    Posted by Becky Smith

    Here's the first of a series of four videos about how to use the different parts of Share. There have been some major recent upgrades to Share and we want to make sure everyone knows how to take full advantage of Share's power. Over the next week there will be videos appearing on each of these three components of Share: (1) Blog; (2) Chatter Community; (3) Ideas.

    Mar 13, 2013

    1st Release: Learn Action Pages and Share Support!

    Posted by Keith Mancuso

    Hey everyone,

    We are excited to announce that we just pushed the lastest release of Change Machine Beta live. Thank you to everyone who has been using the system so far and providing your feedback. We hope to continue these releases once a month, so please continue to provide feedback and ideas!

    Read More
    Feb 06, 2013

    New Members: Beta Launch

    Posted by Becky Smith

    We are thrilled to welcome United Way of Southeastern Michigan's financial coaching network and its Center for Working Families and Community Financial Centers partners as our inaugural beta testers on the Learn section of Change Machine! We want to send a special shout out to the following organizations participating in the first beta launch:

    Read More

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