Designing a remote financial help service

Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, community service agencies across Canada have had to rapidly adapt the way they engage and support people in the community. ​ A growing number of Canadians need (or soon will need) support as they deal with the financial strain brought on by an unprecedented global pandemic. ​Community agencies would like to help connect people to support and there is increased interest in how to deliver that support remotely. ​

Over a nine-month period beginning mid 2020, and with funding from Capital One, Prosper Canada worked alongside service design firm Bridgeable and community agencies in Manitoba, British Columbia, and Ontario to study the remote delivery of financial help services in each setting. The research was followed by a period of learning, sharing and data collection reflected in the reports and toolkit published here.



Reports
These slide decks describe the goals and outcomes of this project.
Socialization deck: Supporting the design of a remote financial help service (Bridgeable)

Client Journey maps
These journey maps offer a visual explanation of the process used by the 3 participating community agencies offering one-on-one client support.
Family Services of Greater Vancouver
SEED Winnipeg
Thunder Bay Counselling

Toolkit
This toolkit was developed in collaboration with community partners, and shares tools for coaches and clients in the virtual one-on-one process.
Virtual service delivery tools (Toolkit)

Effective Programs and Policies for Promoting Economic Well-Being

This report was originally developed to support the work of Feeding America and its member food banks in exploring interventions that support households’ economic well-being. Such strategies can be valuable not only for organizations serving households facing food insecurity, but for agencies and organizations serving families with low incomes and other vulnerable populations. This report reflects this broadened audience, and we thank Feeding America for their support in helping us develop this report.



Virtual self-assisted tax filing: Learnings from a program pilot

During 2020, alternative approaches to the traditional community tax clinic model have become even more valuable as COVID-19 lockdown measures prevented in-person program delivery. In response to the growing demand for alternative ways to deliver tax-filing supportProsper Canada partnered with Intuit Canada and three community organizations in Ontario to pilot a virtual tax-filing model that empowers individuals to complete their tax return themselves. The pilot was supported by tax experts and volunteers who helped guide individuals through the TurboTax for Tax Clinics Canada software.  

The webinar speakers are:

  • Ana Fremont (Prosper Canada)
  • Guy Labelle, (Intuit/TurboTax)
  • Ansley Dawson (Woodgreen Community Services, Toronto)
  • Marc D’Orgeville, (EBO, Ottawa) 

This webinar is ideally suited for frontline practitioners exploring alternate ways to deliver tax-filing support to vulnerable Canadians. 

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.



Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Download the handout for this webinar: Process map: Virtual Self-File model overview

Time-stamps for the video recording:
4:01 – Agenda and introductions
5:59 – Audience polls
10:27 – Project introduction (Speaker: Ana Fremont, Prosper Canada)
14:31 – Tour of TurboTax for Tax Clinics (Speaker: Guy Labelle, Intuit)
17:59 – Woodgreen project pilot (Speaker: Ansley Dawson, Woodgreen Community Services)
27:35 – EBO 2-step process (Speaker: Marc D’Orgeville, EBO)
39:26 – Woodgreen program modifications (Speaker: Ansley Dawson, Woodgreen)
46:03 – Q&A


The poverty premium: a customer perspective

Fair By Design and Turn2Us (in the United Kingdom) commissioned this research to explore recent changes in the poverty premium landscape, to understand if they are having any impact on the cost of premiums, or the number of people who pay them. Importantly, we did this through the lens of the low-income customer in order to hear first-hand how they experience these extra costs; how they see the problems with the current system; how they respond to initiatives and interventions designed to reduce poverty premiums; and the changes they feel would make the most difference to them and their household.

This research report:

  • Describes recent initiatives to reduce the poverty premium and reviews any evidence of what works.
  • Re-calculates the level and types of poverty premiums paid by low-income households in 2019. We focus on high-cost credit use, energy tariffs and insurance (specifically home contents, car and specific item insurance) because our previous work identified these as potentially the most harmful to low-income households (Davies et al, 2016; Davies and Finney, 2017).
  • Looks in detail at the financial difficulties experienced by low-income households, their impact on individuals and families, and the things that prevent low-income households from getting a better deal.
  • Sets out ‘user-led’ solutions and ideas that people living in poverty feel could help to reduce the extra costs they pay.



Human Insights Tools & Resources

Human insights are used when designing programs and improving services through understanding clients’ hidden preferences, environment factors and behaviors. The Human Insights Tools from Prosperity Now are intended to take you through the process of discovering opportunities for innovation from clients’ point of view, designing solutions to meet those needs, and testing your ideas to ensure they bring about the needed change.

Tools and resources are presented for each of the discover, design, and test phases.



Youth Reconnect Program Guide: An Early Intervention Approach to Preventing Youth Homelessness

Since 2017, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and A Way Home Canada have been implementing and evaluating three program models that are situated across the continuum of prevention, in 10 communities and 12 sites in Ontario and Alberta. Among these is an early intervention called Youth Reconnect.

This document describes the key elements of the YR program model, including program elements and objectives, case examples of YR in practice, and necessary conditions for implementation. It is intended for communities who are interested in pursuing similar early intervention strategies. The key to success, regardless of the approaches taken, lies in building and nurturing community partnerships with service providers, educators, policy professionals, and young people.



Service Design Tools

This website shares tools, tutorials, and resources on service design. The tools will help you prepare for different stages of the service design process, think through who to engage and how, and plan or improve a service. Includes templates for tools such as empathy maps, personas, service blueprints, and more.



Client Engagement and Retention—The Secret Ingredient in Successful Financial Capability Programs

Grantmakers and practitioners recognize the importance of financial security for individuals and families, and many organizations therefore offer financial capability programs aimed at strengthening the financial well-being of the people they serve. But good financial capability programs are often high-touch and costly to provide for program administrators, and time consuming for clients to participate in. To benefit fully from such programs’ offerings, clients must actively participate in the program’s coaching, counseling, or other sessions, and engage in related activities to boost their financial health.

Thus, understanding what drives client engagement is critical to helping programs improve program retention and outcomes, and concurrently, helps funders maximize the value of philanthropic dollars and customers’ time. Grantmakers concerned about best practices for funding effective financial capability efforts must therefore understand the vital role of client retention and the strategies for supporting the nonprofit sector to address this challenge.

The brief explains the importance of client retention and engagement for financial capability program success, describes three key barriers to effective program participation, offers strategies to overcome those barriers, and closes with recommendations for philanthropy.



Creating a Strong Foundation for Change

This guide is designed to be a resource for programs working with low income families to use when anticipating or implementing a new approach, such as coaching, to doing business. It helps you to systematically – and honestly – look at your foundational readiness for change, so that the improvements you want to make will take root and grow in fertile ground. Making time and space to look deeply into your organization can offer the opportunity to reconsider what quality service delivery looks like, help you discover how coaching (or other techniques) could be a tool, and plan efficiently on where it fits best into your existing context.



Blended programs: Boosting financial education and participant outcomes

There are many different ways to deliver financial empowerment programs. Financial literacy education, financial coaching, and matched savings programs can be successfully delivered independently, with successful outcomes for participants. They can also be blended together to accomplish several educational goals and improve participant outcomes. 

In this one-hour webinar we explore two examples of blended program models. The speakers are:

  • Anna Jordan (Momentum – Calgary, AB
  • Monica Da Ponte (Strive – Toronto, ON)

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.



Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Handouts for this webinar:
How Savings Circles Works
Information about the Strive program

Time-stamps for the video recording:
3:35 – Agenda and introductions
6:00 – Audience polls
10:58 – Financial empowerment interventions (Speaker: Glenna Harris)
14:00 – Savings Circles program at Momentum (Speaker: Anna Jordan)
33:18 – Strive program (Speaker: Monica daPonte)
55:50 – Q&A

Removing Savings Penalties for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

This brief discusses the savings penalties in public assistance programs in the United States, also known as asset limits, and that actions that can be taken to eliminate these limits and the barriers towards building savings for families living on low income.



Spurring Savings Innovations: Human Insight Methods for Savings Programs

This brief uses the experiences of participants in a service design process called the Savings Innovation Learning Cluster (SILC) to gather key insights into client perspectives and how it can be used to better program design. Four human insights research and design methods are explored—client interviews, client journey mapping, concept boards and prototyping—which can be used to develop more effective savings programs. 



Introduction to Program Evaluation for Public Health Programs: A Self-Study Guide

This document is a “how to” guide for planning and implementing evaluation activities. The manual, based on Centers for Disease Control and Preventions's Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health, is intended to assist managers and staff of public, private, and community public health programs to plan, design, implement and use comprehensive evaluations in a practical way.



Service design done right

This one-hour webinar shares insights on why service design is so valuable for organizations and businesses, and what is involved in the service design process. The purpose of this webinar is to introduce you to what service design is, how it works, and what elements of service design you can take and apply to your own work.

The speakers are:

  • Minyan Wong and Bonnie Tang from Bridgeable
  • Trisha Islam from Prosper Canada

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.



Read the presentation slides for this webinar:

Bridgeable’s handouts for this webinar:
Key takeaways for Service Design

Prosper Canada’s handouts for this webinar:
Benefits Screening Tool Phase 2 report
Pathways to benefits
Client Journey Map for ODSP application
Practitioner Workflows

Time-stamps for the video recording:
3:14 – Agenda and introductions
5:51 – Audience polls
9:19 – All about service design (Speaker: Glenna Harris)
11:00 – Bridgeable: Introduction to service design (Speakers: Bonnie Tang and Minyan Wong)
35:00 – Benefits Screening tool design process (Speaker: Trisha Islam)
50:20 – Q&A

Effective financial education: Five principles and how to use them

Because of the key role that financial education can play in people’s lives, the CFPB has conducted research over its first five years into what makes financial education effective for consumers. What do we mean by “effective?” It does not just mean training that helps people perform better on a test of financial facts. It means equipping consumers to understand the financial marketplace and make sound financial choices in pursuit of their life goals.

 

 



An Evaluation of Financial Empowerment Centers: Building People’s Financial Stability as a Public Service

This report is a three-year evaluation of the Financial Empowerment Center initiative’s replication in 5 cities (Denver, CO; Lansing, MI; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA and San Antonio, TX). Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) offer professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free public service. The evaluation draws on data from 22,000 clients who participated in 57,000 counseling sessions across these first 5 city replication partners, and provides additional evidence of the program’s success. 



Overview: Financial Empowerment Center Counselor Training Standards

This overview summarizes the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) model’s Counselor Training Standards. The Standards delineate the breadth and depth of the financial content areas, counseling and coaching skills, practice and experiential learning, and socio-economic and cultural context setting necessary to serve the diverse needs and backgrounds of FEC clients. The Standards also include a Code of Ethics that promotes responsible, professional and ethical financial counseling, furthering the profession of one on-one financial counseling.



Financial Coaching Program Design Guide: A Participant-Centred Approach

This comprehensive resource from Prosperity Now supports organizations in developing a participant-centered financial coaching program. Grounded in a field survey, over 100 interviews, expert advice and beta-testing with six new financial coaching programs, the Coaching Guide highlights the strengths and limitations of financial coaching, offers designs tools, showcases promising models and practices, and includes resources from program leaders and financial coaches.