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, November 17, 2014

An Ongoing Miasma: The Misdeeds of Big Banks

It has become a cliché to excoriate the big banks for their financial misdeeds, in large part because the public has grown tired of the litany of law-suits, controversial settlements, accusations of manipulation, cover-ups and other shenanigans.  But I'm going to write about it anyway, for a simple reason: this is no laughing matter, and it's not going away.

The inspiration for this post came from two stories, both posted on November 12th, detailing the latest corporate malfeasance.  In the first story, we learn that "some of the nation’s biggest banks ignore bankruptcy court discharges, which render the debts void. Paying no heed to the courts, the banks keep the debts alive on credit reports, essentially forcing borrowers to make payments on bills that they do not legally owe."  The second story informs us that a number of big banks have agreed to a $4.25 billion fine for illegal currency-rigging.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ideas For Serving Deeply Vulnerable Populations

Yaay Equitable Financial Services!
There are a lot of wonderful things about the use of financial services as a tool to tackle poverty: it respects the dignity of the poor; generates a revenue stream for the lender; builds the borrower's credit; and allows borrowers to make investments, such as in a security deposit or computer purchase, that they would otherwise be unable to make.  One challenge, however, is that there is an inherent tension between making loans to the poor and maintaining high repayment rates: the lower the income of the borrower, the riskier the loan.  This is not due to any character flaws on the part of the poor, but rather the instability--financial and otherwise--that often defines their lives.

Given that our poverty-fighting mission, it is imperative that we figure out how to make loans to deeply vulnerable populations without taking on an unacceptable level of risk.  Many of our referrals come from caseworkers and agencies that work with the temporarily homeless, the mentally ill, ex-offenders and survivors of domestic violence, and there it is very frustrating to deny a loan application that can transform the life of the applicant--a loan to cover the cost of a security deposit for a homeless family, for instance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Whence The Next Check?

The Things You Just Have to Do

Ask any CEO of a nonprofit about the worst part of their job, and they will almost certainly speak to the never-ending struggle to raise funds.  I come to that conclusion not only because it is how I respond to the question, but also thanks to nearly six years of interacting with my fellow nonprofit leaders. Grant reports, newsletters, proposals, lunch meetings, and calls with potential donors are all critical elements of our job descriptions; yet they, on the face of it, have nothing to do with the mission.

Almost all of us get into the nonprofit sector to serve others and solve problems.  What motivates us is knowing that our clients' lives are improved: we like to see the borrower, talk to the recipient of Financial Coaching, and read success stories.  Of course we all know that without money, none of this good work can be accomplished.  Still, as we spend hours staring at a computer or schmoozing, it can at times feel like you are more a glorified paper-pushed and beggar than agent of social change.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I Must Write

I need to write something, anything, be it profound or prosaic, masterful or awful. For once, I can't afford to worry about grammar, for I fear that unless I release the flow of stymied creativity, the poetry will languish and grow heavy, like so much ballast sinking me to the bottom of the sea.

I'm afraid to pause.  My fingers tremble, so let them strike the keys, and to do so violently if they must.  I am tired and frustrated and angry.  My inadequacy follows me wherever I go.  I question my ability to better the world; to put my best foot forward; to inspire others; to write poetry and prose of worth to others, and worthy of my lofty expectations; to live up to my ideals; and to persevere in the face of hopelessness.