This is pretty frustrating for a social entrepreneur. We can be annoyingly impatient. We want to get on with stuff, make things happen, try things out and see what works. Ironically, that’s what the FinCap Strategy says it’s looking for but what’s different is we’ll take a punt, risk a little, learn and change. It’s worked well for Quids in! magazine and the latest edition is one I’m really proud of because all the thinking and testing has come together around it.
Back in September, the MAS ran a 'theory of change' workshop for the Social Publishing Project (SPP). We identified that, on a national scale, we're pretty much the only independent financial capability outfit engaging people in poverty and on low incomes before they've identified they have money problems and decided to take action. What's rare is not just about HOW we do that, getting Quids in! magazine onto social tenants' coffee tables across the UK, but also WHAT we do to entice passive recipients to become active readers.
Alongside user engagement must come some understanding of user experience. In our context, I believe that to engage people on low incomes, we need to understand the experience they are looking for. When reading, they want to be informed but also entertained. They want to be talked (and listened) to, not talked at or patronised, and all this is now being confirmed by behavioural theory, calling for trusted messengers and ‘nudge’ techniques. So, when we include a sexy pic and easy-to-follow top tips supplied direct by one of our readers who’s got through a tough time, this is exactly what we’re starting to provide.
Listening to speaker after speaker at the MAS event, it was all I could do not to keep rushing the stage with copies of Quids in!. ‘Here,’ I wanted to say, ‘is one way you could start engaging over-indebted people. We’re already reaching 150,000 of the very people you’re describing but with your help we could double that or more. The magazine is already deploying the tactics you’re suggesting, to the people you say we should all be targeting…’
MAS’ Universal Credit guide, for example, is 12 pages of text outlining how the new system should work (according to the government). By contrast, ours is 32-page illustrated magazine, led with bold headlines and 3 sections that break down the key areas of concern. Our content draws on the experience of claimants, in partnership with agencies in UC pathway areas and in discussion with landlords around the UK, and outlines the pitfalls to watch out for, which is what
So, when it comes to all the head scratching around engaging over-indebted people, it was a shame more was not on the table about what will actually happen to make the best of the intelligence now gathered. MAS knows who to target. Like I say, I’m impatient. There’s work to be done here, while lives go to ruin, and some of us are already getting on with it. And we have more than ideas to offer.