Measuring the impact of
financial capability initiatives

How do we know we are improving financial capability?

Many people and organisations are working across Australia to improve financial capability and deliver on the vision of the National Financial Capability Strategy, which is Australians in control of their financial lives.

This work might be financial coaching, business planning, or education workshops. It could be financial support, financial counselling, access to no-interest or fee free loans or products, or grants bodies, or government funding programs. Or perhaps it’s online information, digital apps, professional development, or workplace initiatives. It also includes academic research into ‘what works’, and policy development to identify the systems changes needed to better support peoples’ ability to improve their understanding of, confidence in, and management of money.

Organisations engaged in this work are wide and varied: non-government organisations, schools, banks and other financial service providers, government agencies, and universities.

We all do this work because we believe it makes a difference to the wellbeing of people and communities.

But when asked “what impact did your work have?” – or “what changes did you see as a result of this program?” – it can be hard to explain.

There is a clear need for a common language to describe the changes in behaviour, systems or products that we see from these activities. Our discussions with those working to improve Australians’ financial capability have shown there is a strong interest in understanding what we mean when we say we are trying to help people control their financial lives, and how we can measure our progress towards this vision.

In 2019-2020, ASIC worked with Social Ventures Australia (SVA) to develop a shared impact (or outcomes) framework to support the monitoring and evaluation of financial capability initiatives in Australia. SVA first undertook a literature review [PDF] to understand the financial capability landscape and relevant outcomes frameworks.

SVA and ASIC then facilitated five stakeholder workshops with NGOs, industry, academics and other government agencies to co-design a theory of change.

ASIC is now finalising a monitoring and evaluation framework, which includes theories of change, a library of common outcomes, and some resources to support people to evaluate the impact of programs or other interventions. The first version of the framework and resources will be available on this website in July 2020. We expect these to evolve over time as our understanding of ‘what works’ grows, and as we hear back from people using these resources to evaluate programs or monitor the impact of their interventions.

We are also setting up a Financial Capability Monitoring & Evaluation Community of Practice. This group will be used to test and discuss our framework, point us to other resources you are finding useful, and to continue the conversation of good practice in evaluations.

To get involved in the Community of Practice, or to find out more about our monitoring and evaluation work, please email [email protected].