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!

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.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Poverty Is Bad For Business

Poverty and Economic Development
Image credit: Jason via Flickr
Poverty is not merely a moral issue; it is an economic problem. We cannot have a strong economy so long as over 45 million Americans live in poverty and 49 million do not get three square meals a day, every day. And we cannot have a strong economy so long as families making $20,000 per year spend $1,200 on check cashing and money orders.

When a payday lender charges 261%, every dollar the borrower spends on interest* is a dollar not spent on savings, education, clothing, and other basic needs (on a $325 payday loan, the average borrower will pay nearly $500 in interest). When a predatory auto loan results in repossession, it becomes that much harder for a family to get to work, school, or the doctor’s office; jobs are lost, children's health and futures are compromised. And when wages are stagnant, a family's ability to buy homes, cars, and furniture—to engage in spending that drives the economy—is severely curtailed.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nonprofits: Do We Need Them?

A Cause for Celebration?

Image Credit: Cbaquiran
As Capital Good Fund nears its sixth birthday, I would like to pause for a moment and ask two uncomfortable questions: is this cause for celebration, and fundamentally, do we need nonprofits?

Some background is in order. As a nonprofit executive and donor to a multitude of other charities, I am deeply acquainted with what I like to think of as the glossy facade we erect on our annual reports, grant applications, and public communications. We change the life of every person we serve, and we do so with a minimum of cost. Ours is the business model best suited to solving the problem highlighted in our respective mission statements. Everyone involved with our organization (board members, staff, volunteers, donors, and clients) wanders the world with a perpetual smile, the result of the unequivocal good we do in the world.

The Ideal and the Real
Yikes, that sounds cynical, does it not? Relax, I may have just turned thirty, yet I remain ferociously devoted to my idealism, something so many others told my fifteen-year-old self would never happen! But the dictionary makes a clear distinction between the optimistic and the Pollyannaish, and we would be remiss to forget that.  So let's take an unvarnished look at the nonprofit sector and see what we find.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Five Tips For Job Interviews

Over the past six year's I've had occasion to interview dozens of candidates for all manner of positions: volunteers, interns, part-time and full-time employees, and independent contractors.  Given this depth of experience, I think I'm relatively qualified to give five tips for your next job interview: