Social change work is hard and frustrating and wonderful and terrible; it is also, at times, funny, quirky and just plain fascinating. With this blog we hope to capture all that goes into what we do at Capital Good Fund, and we invite you to join the conversation!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Whither Your New Year's Resolution?

Image credit:
I sometimes joke that the best time to get going on your New Year's resolution is June, in part because you are free at any time to get a fresh start, and in part because it is demoralizing to watch your resolve wilt away by the first week of January. Still, the concept of the New Year's resolution is fascinating, for it gets to the core contradiction between our ability as humans to think and plan long-term and our seeming inability to behave accordingly. The examples are innumerable: we know it is imperative that we save, yet we buy that shiny new TV; we want to lose weight, but we can't do without that piece of cake; and more broadly, we (most of us) know that climate change is an existential threat, yet we repeatedly fail to take the individual and collection action needed to do something about it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Press Release: Capital Good Fund Launches Groundbreaking $4.25 Million Debt Offering

Capital Good Fund Launches Groundbreaking $4.25 Million Debt Offering
Pioneering social enterprise aims to create 60 jobs and change 17,000 lives over five years 

Providence, RI—Capital Good Fund, a Providence-based nonprofit social change organization that provides equitable financial services—small personal loans and Financial Coaching—to create pathways out of poverty, has launched a first-of-its-kind $4.25 million Direct Public Offering.

Instead of making a donation, social investors can earn up to 5 percent and invest as little as $1,000. Investors can be accredited or non-accredited individuals and institutions in 15 states including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York.

By offering social investors financial as well as social returns, Capital Good Fund is creating a new model for change,” said Founder and CEO Andy Posner. “Large-scale problems require large-scale solutions, but nonprofits often lack the resources to meet these challenges. Where philanthropic funding often amounts to a zero-sum game between nonprofits, the capital markets give us access to a global source of funds with which to grow.

Capital Good Fund provides financial services to those that would normally only have access to capital through fringe and predatory lenders such as payday lenders, pawn shops, auto title lenders, and other subprime lenders who charge poor families upwards of 200% APR.

With $4.25 million in funds, Capital Good Fund will take a big step towards fulfilling its social mission. The organization plans to create 60 jobs and make17,000 loans in the next five years; this, in turn, will enable them to generate 100 percent of its budget from interest income.

“Capital Good Fund’s debt offering represents an exciting new model for how nonprofits can scale through earned-income strategies,” General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said. “For the past six years, Capital Good Fund has used financial services to serve Rhode Islanders. Now, they are blazing a trail for social enterprises throughout the nation to strengthen their finances and better serve their communities.”

In the first few weeks of the Offering a total of $120,000 has been committed, including $100,000 from Alan Hassenfeld, former CEO of Hasbro Toys.

"I am excited that Capital Good Fund is using this powerful new tool for reaching the less fortunate," said Alan Hassenfeld, President of the Hassenfeld Family Foundation. "I'm proud to invest $100,000 in this debt offering so that thousands of families will have the tools they need to take care of their families."

For more information:

Investors can learn more by visiting the website of Social Capital Fund, Capital Good Fund’s sister nonprofit and debt issuer, at or by contacting Andy Posner, Founder & CEO, via the info here.


Founded in 2009, Capital Good Fund is a nonprofit, certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and proud member of the Opportunity Finance Network. The organization provides Financial & Health Coaching and personal loans ranging from $300 to $13,500 across four product lines. Since its founding, Capital Good Fund has disbursed 950 loans totaling $900,000 (with a 92% repayment rate) and graduated 1,000 people through its Coaching programs.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Car Loan Program & Press Release

This month, we're so happy to announce our car loan product, which will help thousands of Rhode Islands avoid predatory car loans from buy-here-pay-here dealers.

If you have money, you can pay for a car in full. If you have good credit, you can get some great loans from credit union. But if you lack both, you're left with options like those "NO CREDIT!" buy-here-pay-here dealerships, which are notorious for taking advantage of people.

That's where our car loans come in. Our car loans are a more affordable alternative to buy-here-pay-here loans, and can save people up to $9,000 over the lifetime of the loan.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What We Learned From Listening To Our Clients

Image credit: Ky Olsen
I can think of dozens of times when we've struggled to design a marketing campaign, launch a new loan product, or build a community partnership. In each instance, we've attempted to put ourselves in the shoes of those we serve and adjust accordingly. Not surprisingly, we have had mixed results with this approach, for no matter how hard we try, we are far more likely to be biased toward our perspective than we are toward that of our clients.

As we look to scale, however, we realize that one of the biggest challenges will be customer acquisition; our competitors have branches in every low-income neighborhood in the state and boast significant marketing budgets. To put predatory companies out of business, then, we must have an effective and cost-effective marketing strategy. To that end, we recently partnered with Professor Joe Stasio, a marketing professor at Merrimack College, to develop just such a strategy. And the first thing he recommended we do? Listen to our clients.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why Swiss Restaurants Don't Expect You To Tip

Image source: Dave Dugdale
Over the past few months I have lent my voice to a coalition of groups seeking to raise the Rhode Island minimum wage for tipped workers from $2.89 an hour to the minimum wage for all workers ($9 an hour as of January 1, 2015). Yes, you read that right: the minimum wage for a tipped worker in Rhode Island (think waiters and bartenders) is $2.89! The idea, of course, is that workers will make up the rest through tips, but imagine working in an environment where your income is almost entirely dependent on whether or not your clients choose to live you a tip. Even worse, on slow days with few customers--something over which you have no control--you might earn less than $10 for a day's work.

Now I should point out that, in theory, employers are supposed to make up the difference between the tipped minimum wage and the "regular" minimum wage if tips don't cover it. In practice, however, this rarely happens; among other issues, the difference is exceedingly difficult to calculate. Scores of interviews with waiters and other research have revealed that this law is almost always ignored.

Monday, June 15, 2015

An Easy Way to Save Money

Image credit: 401(k) 2012
Like many people, I use a variety of tools to manage my financial life: I have two checking accounts (one with Bank of America and another with Capital One 360); a savings account; two credit cards; and various municipal bonds, among other accounts. This arrangement makes sense to me for a number of reasons, but the complexity can also create challenges. For example, several months ago I decided to carefully read through my credit card statement, and noticed that for half a year the New York Times had been charging me for a subscription I'd canceled long ago.

After discovering that error—which had cost me nearly $100—I put a recurring event on my calendar to check all my bank, credit card, and other statements. Since then I have found numerous erroneous charges. What's interesting is that none of them were fraudulent; rather, they were simply cases of vendors making mistakes.

I imagine most of us know that we should read our statements every month, but given our busy lives in can be easy to forget to do so. Yet staying on top of our accounts can yield significant savings; in a sense, it's "free money."

So next time you get that credit card or bank statement, do a careful read-through. If anything looks off, call the vendor or your bank. More often that not, it's an honest mistake that can easily be fixed, but only if you notice it and do something about it! This is an important lesson for all of us, and we will certainly use it at Capital Good Fund to help our clients!

Andy is the Founder & CEO of Capital Good Fund, a social change organization dedicated to ending poverty in America. Capital Good Fund provides financial services— small personal loans as well as Financial & Health Coaching—to low-income families.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why We Need a Rating and Review System for Nonprofit Services

Information Asymmetry
When you want to try a new restaurant, you can use a service like Google, Yelp, or Urban Spoon to read reviews, check hours and menus, and decide on a place to eat. Thanks to online rating services you’ll be able to make an informed decision about where to enjoy a nice meal.

Now imagine you are struggling to manage your debt and want to sign up for financial counseling. You Google 'financial counseling Rhode Island' and a number of options pop up: Money Management International, Rhode Island Housing, Consumer Credit Counseling Services, etc. A little more digging might direct you to Capital Good Fund, Amos House, or one of the handful of other nonprofit financial coaching organizations in the state. What you won't find, however, is what our dinner goers were seeking: ratings, reviews, and comparisons.