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Hetal Sheth 7/11/22 11:00 AM 5 min read

Breaking the Barriers: Financial Security for All

Significant and lasting economic development requires an organization to understand the community it serves. Gathering feedback from stakeholders on CDFI programs and services provides the insight needed to learn, grow, and maximize social impact for that community. 

Community development finance institutions (CDFI programs) are designed to bring economic development to underserved communities in the US. In order for CDFI programs to be sustainable and attract impact investments, it is important to measure their impact. CDFI program sharing their journey of impact with the involvement of their stakeholder has become important in today’s time. 

Sopact has worked with economic development organizations like Capital Plus Financial to measure and grow stakeholder impact. This is the story of their impact journey.

Impact measurement is increasingly becoming essential for community development finance institution (CDFI) that supports economically underserved communities.  Breaking the barriers to financial security for small businesses or individuals requires continuous learning.  A CDFI carries a responsibility to bridge the gap between public and private funding and transparent social impact reporting.

  KEY TAKEAWAYS  

  • The role of IMM in understanding the social impact of CDFI products and services on the community
  • How to overcome internal learning barriers such as accessibility, language issues, and technology
  • How to incorporate program learning into new services to maximize stakeholder impact

 

CDFI Program Impact Measurement - The Challenge

Capital Plus Financial is a community development finance institution (CDFI) that supports economically underbanked communities in the state of Texas, USA. For 20 years, Capital Plus Financial has provided Hispanic families with quality affordable housing, transparent 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, and critical financial education. 

As a large CDFI, CPF also carries a responsibility to bridge the gap between public and private funding to ensure the flow of capital to smaller CDFIs doing incredible work in their communities. In 2021, CPF engaged to improve economic security for small businesses by eliminating barriers to PPP financing for businesses owned by underserved women and minorities. Throughout the pandemic, Capital Plus Financial aided communities across the country through PPP loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Homeownership and accessible financial products can have a profound social impact on a community. Capital Plus Financial wanted to:

  • understand the impact their products and services have on the community,
  • incorporate new, modern technology in data collection and analysis,
  • and overcome internal learning barriers such as accessibility, language issues, and technology

The key challenges to these goals were grouped into three basic categories:

  • Technology - They needed to move away from manual, error-prone spreadsheets.
  • Data collection practices - They knew they should be collecting outcome data from stakeholders, but hadn’t and were unaware of how to begin.
  • Accessing their stakeholder - Most of their stakeholders didn’t have emails, were not easy to reach, and most speak Spanish

Read More: Case study: Transforming Families with Affordable Housing

 

Learning impact outcomes 

Through migration to Impact Cloud®, SoPact was able to help Capital Plus Financial address the above challenges. As a result, Capital Plus Financial improved its impact measurement and management (IMM) systems to understand the fullness of its social impact. 

Define your impact. Over three years, we helped Capital Plus Financial identify the stakeholders, metrics, and outcomes that were most relevant. For example, before 2021, the stakeholders were affordable housing buyers and collected data to see what was changing due to their services and financial help. In 2021-2022, the stakeholders were women and minority-owned small businesses that borrowed PPP funding. Previously, they collected only system and financial data required by regulation, a common practice.

After identification of the stakeholders and outcomes, we aligned their indicators to impact measurement standards such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Impact Management and Measurement’s 5 Dimensions of Impact, and IRIS+ by GIIN. This gave Capital Plus Financial the right framework to approach its impact measurement.

Connect the data. We helped Capital Plus Financial choose the tools to collect feedback from its stakeholders. We implemented data collection through SMS in the Spanish language when necessary. This immediately increased responses from their stakeholders.

Connecting Capital Plus Financial’s previous spreadsheets and tools to the ImpactCloud system took weeks of data cleansing and validation. 

Track outcomes in real-time. Once multiple data sources were combined in the system, it provided powerful insight in real-time. Convenient dashboards and minimal training for the Capital Plus Financial team allowed them to analyze, learn, and demonstrate continuous learning from stakeholder feedback. Now they can track outcomes, gain insight, and make strategic organizational decisions based on impact-rich data capture. These are all system elements that will be leveraged to improve services and growth in the community. 

Read More: New approaches to report social impact in real estate projects

Economic Development Outcomes

So what impact did Capital Plus Financial understand and demonstrate after partnering with SoPact? A combination of objective data and the perspective of the stakeholder revealed impressive numbers during the height of the COVID-19 crisis. Despite 76% of their stakeholders experiencing serious economic hardship during the crisis, 98.39% of their stakeholders kept their homes. This is an impact worth celebrating.

Their homeowner stakeholders also reported outcomes such as:

  • improved physical and mental health, 
  • increased safety,
  • and improved long-term investment to build wealth. 

CEO Eric Donnelly said, “Our impact measurement goals are to learn how our stakeholders see they change, learn their needs, use impact data for effective decision-making, build trust, improve accountability, and manage risks.”

"Thanks to improved IMM data, Capital Plus Financial can demonstrate clear indicators to investors and board members. Their work is breaking the cycle of poverty, building paths to financial stability, and improving communities." 

Read More: Case Study: Scaling Up to End Poverty

Next Steps of Eliminating Barriers to Financing

In post-pandemic CPF broaden its impact investment landscape to businesses owned by underserved women and minorities. Throughout the pandemic, Capital Plus Financial aided communities across the country through PPP loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Multiple reports have demonstrated that CDFI’s were essential in reaching small business owners who were largely left out of PPP assistance nationally. Capital Plus Financial went a step further and strategically collected stakeholder experience.

CPF Report Cover

2022 Improving economic security for small businesses report is about the experience of CPF PPP recipients. The report includes the questions such as,

  • Who are the recipients of Capital Plus Financial PPP loans,
  • What changed due to PPP loans?
  • Did the PPP loan have its intended impact?
  • How much capital was distributed
  • How did PPP recipients view their experience working with Capital Plus Financial?
  • How helpful was the PPP loan to the recipients
  • How can Capital Plus Financial invest its resources to have the most significant impact in the future?

Equitable access to banking products and affordable housing are key elements of economic development. SoPact is proud to support organizations like Capital Plus Financial which are driving real impact in their community. To learn more, visit Capital Plus Financial and check out SoPact’s impact perspectives on economic development and affordable housing today.

Impact Report - CDFI Program

 

Photo by Pexels

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Hetal Sheth

The founder of Ektta, and co-founder of SoPact, Hetal holds a deep passion for establishing enduring impact management practices in the social sector to have built-in learning and accountability.