How might we work together to build the financial capability of the Columbus region?
Dozens of organizations in Columbus, Ohio provided services to help people improve their financial situations. While many of these programs were effective, the sector as a whole was disorganized. Organizations lacked a set of universal standards, best practices or consistent metrics. Programs were often redundant. Large demographics of residents were either underserved or not served at all. As a backbone convener and funder, United Way of Central Ohio saw an opportunity to bring the organizations together to work more effectively and collectively improve the region’s financial capabilities.
We worked with United Way of Central Ohio to build an inter-organizational network from the ground up. We wanted to understand what families needed to succeed financially, and then use those learnings as the foundation for a formal, coordinated method for delivering financial coaching to families. Through a year-long process with service providers, clients, and other key stakeholders from agencies across Columbus, UWCO and DI designed a community-wide strategy and infrastructure for adopting strong financial coaching practices. Read the full case study.
Our work included:
- Conducting ethnographic research to understand the deeper needs of financial coaching recipients
- Applying the user research to build the network’s core elements (metrics, meeting, membership, governance structure)
- Facilitating an intensive planning process with service providers, clients, and key stakeholders
- Coaching teams as they tested each element through rapid prototypes
- Documenting the process through a report and executive summary
25 leaders from seven different agencies used deep consumer research to establish the foundation for a formal, coordinated method for building financial capability in the region. By the end of the year, the team had created a network with clearly defined directives, metrics, and communications, and renewed funding to continue the work. This network included diverse stakeholders from consumers to funders to organizational leaders to front-line workers.
Process design and facilitation
Empathy-driven qualitative research
Divergent idea generation
2016 – 2017
This process enabled us to be strategic with how we were engaging our partners in building financial capability for our region. We are usually so rushed and we don’t set aside the time to test our assumptions about what our partners want or what our customers want. This was incredible.