EARN at Net Impact: Nonprofit Innovation, Economic Fairness, and Microsavings

Jade Shipman, EARN’s Director of Research & Innovation, spoke at the 2015 Net Impact Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington, which had 2,400 attendees and featured over 300 speakers who are experts in their respective fields.

Net Impact Jade Picture

EARN’s microsavings work was front and center when I spoke at the 2015 Net Impact Conference in Seattle. During 2 sessions, I shared how our programs intersect with economic fairness and consumer-oriented design.

I kicked off my time in Seattle presenting to an audience of 80+ people at session called, “A Level Playing Field: Achieving Economic Fairness in America.” The next day, I participated in a panel discussion with 100+ attendees titled, “Better Insight, Better Service: Using Consumer Insights to Drive Positive Change.” In these sessions, we discussed how the mainstream financial system is not comprehensively meeting people’s diverse financial needs. At the same time, innovative organizations like EARN are at the forefront, creating scalable solutions and advocating for their constituents. We discussed nonprofit program design, how to implement consumer-focused research, and the challenges and rewards of having our customers come first.

At EARN, our microsavings work fits right in with these themes. Each day we seek to improve economic fairness and mobility by helping people set aside savings. The research shows that having savings increases households’ financial stability and economic mobility. Further, the act of saving boosts confidence & increases optimism about the future. When it comes to our microsavings programs, EARN prioritizes research and iteration. All of our programs are designed for and with the people we serve, including our latest offering, the EARN Starter Savings Program, which grew out of our research with working families. We are proud to share that once people start to save with EARN, 80% continue saving after programs end.

Net Impact was a great reminder of how EARN’s mission and programs fit within a broader network of people and organizations striving to make change in the world. I was especially impressed with the solutions being implemented by my co-panelists. Co-presenters included Phillip Endicott of the SAGA Center for Change, who is creating a new credit union that serves the needs of same-sex couples, and Casey Dilloway of Community Sourced Capital, which provides community-based micro-lending to support new small businesses of formerly incarcerated adults. It is also clear that other nonprofits share EARN’s client-centered and data-driven approach, including co-panelists Tamara Chao, who shared about myAgro’s innovative layaway initiatives for farmers, and Grant Garrison of GOODcorp, who discussed their broad experience bringing data to bear on the social impact initiatives of major companies. Since the panels, I’ve had a dozen more fascinating conversations with change-makers nationwide.

 

EARN is excited to be part of these conversations and to be part of the solution, by using customer-centered design to develop microsavings programs that improve economic fairness in America. Thanks to the Net Impact organizers for the invitation, and for putting on such a great event. I also want to extend my sincere appreciation to the panels’ moderators: Josh Sledge of CFSI and Peter Kim of The Bridgespan Group, who artfully integrated panelists’ relevant experience. Their thoughtful facilitation called out what we all have in common, presenters and attendees alike: wanting to make a meaningful difference. At EARN, we look forward to more conversation and more impact.

Until next time!