In this guest blog, UK Financial Capability Director Sarah Porretta writes about the findings from over 50 What Works funded projects and what they mean for your organisation.
This week we’re celebrating the launch of findings from the What Works Fund. This is an exciting juncture, as for the first time, there is a body of financial capability evidence that measures similar outcomes. Founded in 2016, the fund has granted over £11m to 65 projects. We supported all of these organisations to evaluate their activity using a set of common principles, including outcomes frameworks for different user groups.
Who are the findings for?
Designing interventions to build financial capability is not an easy thing. Money management touches on people’s skills, emotions, culture, mental health and many other aspects of their lives. The Findings in Your Hands document summarises findings for each age group, from children to people in retirement. It offers a helpful first step if your organisation is new to financial capability.
If your organisation has interventions in place and has evaluated them in the past, you’ll see that What Works is about understanding the impact your intervention has had on people’s financial capability, using that learning to improve your activity, and sharing it with others to help them improve what they do too.
Whether you’re a bank thinking about a new proposition for financial capability two or three years down the line, or a charity with an existing intervention about to bid for funding, the What Works Fund findings will help you to strengthen your proposition or business case for action on financial capability.
These findings can help you to build on someone else’s experiences, or to avoid investing in something that doesn’t work, but it might also raise your game and improve your ability to attract funding. Or, if you fund activity that relates to financial capability, this evidence helps you to make the right decisions, and shape your funding programme to focus on the interventions that will have the most impact.
What’s next for What Works?
Going forward, we’ll be producing deeper analysis across all the What Works funded projects to pull out further themes and learnings.
We’re also developing commissioning plans – one for children and young people and one for people of working age. These plans take the learnings from the What Works Fund and they analyse and prioritise financial capability needs and make recommendations on how to meet them effectively; they also highlight gaps in current provision to funders, policymakers and other commissioners. The plans also identify specific evidence gaps and support the commissioning of further evidence.
We hope that the commissioning plans will be used to shape the future of the Single Financial Guidance Body.
The wider evidence landscape
The What Works Fund has been part of a collection of activities that The Money Advice Service has undertaken in the last three years to understand financial capability, how to improve it and to share that knowledge effectively.
Our evaluation work includes:
- the financial capability survey, to better understand financial capability
- our IMPACT principles, designed to raise awareness about good practice in the use of evaluation and evidence
- the Evaluation Toolkit, developed to help you evaluate your interventions
- the What Works Programme of which the fund is one part, to understand which interventions work best and why, and
- the Evidence Hub, a place to share evidence, insight and learning.
Work is constantly going on around the country to evaluate social interventions – typified by the What Works Network. The Network aims to improve the way government and other organisations create, share and use high quality evidence for decision making. In early 2018, the network invited us to apply to join them.
Joining the What Works Network would mean that financial capability interventions start to gain a higher level of prominence, similar to health, crime reduction or educational achievement. It would further validate the work that we’ve done to date, and give greater momentum to all of our existing activities.
How to put findings into action
Many of you are running events in Talk Money Week. Our work provides a way for you to plan your activity with good practice in view, and to evaluate it.
We will be launching a LinkedIn group for signatories to our IMPACT principles, so that you can share good practice with other organisations.