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Approach

Problem

We’ve identified a specific, important, and large problem.
An estimated 10 million families in this country are financially insecure. These families are supported by full time workers yet have earnings below a basic family budget. Financial insecurity is the premise upon which all communities need support from their local social service organization, but very few nonprofit and governmental agencies, and their social services practitioners, are equipped to deal with it. As such, these organizations are not able to meet the needs of their constituents, nor maximize the impact of their missions.

Vision

An equitable economy in which we all thrive.
Change Machine’s platform provides financial security tools and strategies, in addition to delivering training and organizational development resources. Practitioners access the platform for gold-standard, RCT-vetted “best practices” — both tools and strategies for coaching and outcomes — and stay for the Community of Practice: A rich, complex network of social service providers/practitioners with untapped expertise, connectivity, and data.

Mission

We build financial security for low-income communities.
Our practitioner tools and resources accelerate the scale and pace at which nonprofits drive financial security. As former practitioners ourselves, we’ve harnessed the expertise of thousands of nonprofit practitioners from across the U.S., to disseminate field best practices through our training, coaching tools, and online community of practice. We successfully “productized” those financial coaching strategies into tools, training, and an outcomes framework that sustainably embeds those insights into different use cases, and our CMS maps out a deeply comprehensive definition of “financial security” so that the content is relevant in myriad use cases.
conference room meeting

Approach

New dimensions of performance.

For the past fifteen years, Change Machine has led the financial security field to new practices rooted in equity and the belief that customers are their own best experts. From demonstrating the impact of financial coaching, to leading the charge on scale by way of embedding, to launching a virtual community of practice that has returned $72 million to customers, Change Machine has a track record of building solutions that prioritize the financial realities of the customers we serve.

Philosophy

Practitioners and their clients are subject matter experts.
Change Machine was born of a deep and abiding respect for the lived experiences of our customers; their expertise is the well from which solutions must be drawn to effect change. This philosophy guides our work at every turn. It is the reason why financial goals are the centerpiece of our coaching model, why we emphasize savings as an activity, not an amount, and why we reject mainstream banking as the measure of success – focusing instead on lowering financial transaction costs.

It is also the reason we leverage practitioners as subject matter experts in the work of creating an equitable economy. Their proximity and intimate knowledge of the trade-offs, pivot points, and difficult decisions that customers face act as a catalyst for new systems and narratives, influencing Change Machine’s broader equity and technology work.

Impact

We are serious about results.

In 2014, Change Machine’s financial coaching framework was rigorously evaluated in the field’s first randomized controlled trial (RCT), commissioned by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and led by Urban Institute. The study conclusively demonstrated the impact of our work. On average, trial participants who received our intervention – whose annual income was $22,110 – increased their savings by $1,721, reduced their debt by $1,009, and improved their credit scores by more than 33 points. Trial results were published in a 2015 research report, and were re-released in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization in 2018.

Scale

Achieving impact at scale.
Armed with the results of the RCT, Change Machine set out to achieve impact at scale by embedding our evidence-based framework into the existing program models of social service organizations across the United States. To do this, we built a tech platform that upskills practitioners, connects them with one another, and tracks customer outcomes. In the first year of the launch we served more people than in the prior seven years of financial coaching. We also offered training and technical assistance to partner organizations to sustain their embedded financial security strategies over time.

This combination of technology and capacity building produced the field’s first and largest virtual community of practice, through which we amplify our collective impact on the financial security of our customers.

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