The Clinic’s Endgame: A Vision of a Financially Secure Nation

Mae Watson Grote | Founder and Chief Executive Officer

“If you work full time, you should not be poor” said President Bill Clinton in his 1993 State of the Union Address. But yet that is exactly where millions of Americans find themselves in 2016.

Building financial security by navigating the gap between low-wage work and making ends meet is the founding mission of the Clinic, and the demand for our work is growing at a staggering rate.

How can we possibly deliver our mission to all working poor Americans?

As an organization, this is a question we are constantly asking ourselves at the Clinic. Over the past year, we took a realistic look at how we could expand our reach and our impact with the most efficient use of structure and resources. We quickly came to the conclusion that more brick and mortar was not the answer.

Instead, we sought a strategic approach to scale. We developed Change Machine and recently launched the financial security ecosystem to help bring our tried and tested financial coaching model to more organizations.

A strategic approach to accomplishing mission in the face of overwhelming need is also the subject of “What’s Your Endgame?” an article which appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review last Winter. In this article, I was thrilled to find a particularly astute articulation of our current answer to that question: Growth.

Authors Alice Guglev and Andrew Stern encourage organizations such as ours to focus on the “endgame” rather than on “organizational growth.” They define endgame as “the specific role the nonprofit intends to play in the overall solution to a social problem.”

The Clinic’s Financial Security Ecosystem is strikingly similar to what Gugley and Stern call the “Replication Endgame.” We have taken our proven and highly effective Financial Coaching and capacity building models and are using technology as the key driver for expanding it to a wider range of partners nationwide. This approach brings to the table more partners who have strong relationships with their individual communities, and in many cases, substantial infrastructure. It also allows more nonprofits and government entities to scale the Clinic’s mission of financial security for America’s working poor, while simultaneously accelerating their own outcomes.

The Clinic’s strategies for replication would not have been possible without first looking at where we were and where we wanted to go. We needed to pinpoint how we had to change and grow internally, so we could grow our impact. As a result we examined our infrastructure to ensure that it supports our replication initiatives. As such, we will soon welcome three additions to our leadership team: a Chief Operating Officer, a Director of Marketing and Communications and a Director of Social Enterprise. They will have responsibility for areas we have determined to be crucial for expanding our impact.

One of the clichés we often quote in our field is the goal of “putting ourselves out of business.” Unfortunately, that goal is nowhere in sight as we look at the staggering number of America’s working poor. Until then, we at The Financial Clinic will continue to replicate proven strategies that bring added financial security to those struggling to get by.

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