Strengthening Small and Emerging CDFIs Resource Bank: Training Curriculum

Click here to navigate back to the main Strengthening Small and Emerging CDFIs Resource Bank page.

Models for Growth – What Works
This training module provides an overview of various CDFI business models used to increase scale and the primary factors that can contribute to long-term growth and sustainability. The module includes several examples and best practices of how CDFIs have improved their internal efficiencies and created more demonstrable community impacts by collaborating with other CDFIs and network organizations, implementing shared service platforms, and outsourcing a portion of their operations to third-party service providers.

Training Presentation

  • Author: Michael Swack, Center on Social Innovation and Finance, Carsey Institute University of New Hampshire
  • Summary: This presentation explores how CDFIs have incorporated different business models focused on collaborations, shared service platforms, and outsourcing to scale operations and create more impacts in their target markets. CDFIs were provided with best practices that identified the critical steps needed to build the internal and external infrastructure to foster and replicate these successful models.


Fast Fact Sheets

Examples of Collaborations and Networks

  • Craft3: In an effort to leverage the human and financial resources of CDFIs serving a similar geography, Cascadia Revolving Fund (headquartered in Seattle, WA) and Craft3 (headquartered in Ilwaco, WA) embarked on the first merger in the CDFI industry in 2005. By combining two smaller entities into one larger CDFI, Craft3 (surviving entity), has doubled its total capital base, created greater internal efficiencies, and expanded its target market to include both urban and rural areas throughout Oregon and Washington. This is a great example of how CDFIs can achieve growth through a strategic merger.
  • Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (“FAHE”): FAHE is a membership organization for affordable housing organizations in the four state region of Central Appalachia (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). In 2003, FAHE created a new strategic plan and a performance challenge for growth for itself and its members. As a result, it has increased loan originations from $5 million in 2002 to $47 million in 2013; increased its membership; and provides more services to the industry. FAHE demonstrates how a regional network can create demonstrable impacts.
  • Mountain Association for Community Economic Development and Natural Capital Investment Fund: Demonstrates how collaboration between two CDFIs has created a strong partnership involving co-lending and co-marketing to rural grocery stores in need of energy efficiency upgrades. Through this collaboration, more than $900,000 has been deployed to grocery stores and both CDFIs have expanded their geographic coverage for energy efficiency loans.
  • ROC USA: The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund partnered with three national nonprofits (the Corporation for Enterprise Development, NCB Capital Impact, and NeighborWorks America) to create this collaborative network to make quality resident ownership of manufactured homes communities viable nationwide. ROC USA supports the success of manufactured home communities through on-going management, leadership support, and peer networking opportunities. Regional nonprofits provide on-the-ground technical assistance to homeowner groups. To date, it has assisted over 100 resident cooperatives to secure community ownership.


Examples of Shared Service Platform

  • Accion New Mexico • Arizona • Colorado’s Use of MMS: Accion New Mexico • Arizona • Colorado adopted the MMSTM system (Microloan Management Services powered by Accion Texas, Inc.) to increase efficiencies in 2007. It uses MMSTM for its loan application process, which has allowed it to streamline the intake process and create a better document management system. It has approved more than 2,500 loans through MMSTM, which has been instrumental to its geographic and loan portfolio growth.
  • Appalachian Development Corporation’s Use of Prudent Lenders, LLC: In an effort to become a small business lender for the SBA’s Community Advantage loan program, Appalachian Development Corporation (“ADC”) decided to outsource a portion of its lending operations to Prudent Lenders, a lender service provider, to help it scale its operations and geographically expand its target market. Prudent Lenders assists ADC with loan underwriting and servicing functions, which has allowed the CDFI to focus on customer acquisition for the entire state of South Carolina and closing loans within 45 days.
  • Disability Opportunity Fund’s Use of CapNexus: An example of how the Disability Opportunity Fund used the shared service platform, CapNexus, to become aware of and finance a housing project for veterans and people with intellectual disabilities in partnership with Century Housing Corporation in California. The use of the shared service platform increased the Disability Opportunity Fund’s operational efficiencies allowing staff to focus on underwriting the deal and fostering partnerships. The CDFI now uses CapNexus as an originator to sell participations on its loans.
  • Indian Land Capital’s Use of CRF Contract Loan Servicing: As a Native CDFI with only one employee, Indian Land Capital (“ILC”) engaged the Community Reinvestment Fund (“CRF”) to provide post-closing invoicing, collections and loan servicing support. This arrangement has allowed ILC to focus on relationship management with its borrowers and focus on its mission of providing alternative loan options to Indian nations for tribal land acquisition.


Additional Tools

  • CDFI Industry Analysis Summary Report
    • Authors:Michael Swack, Jack Northrup, and Eric Hangen
    • Summary: Summary: This report explored issues of capitalization, liquidity and portfolio, and risk management for CDFIs from 2005 to 2010. The report’s key findings were that CDFIs have been “stepping into the breach” to address lending-related needs during the recession—and have paid a financial price for doing so- CDFI portfolio performance has been mixed, but only for a minority of organizations is it an issue that significantly affects overall financial performance; significant scale effects exist in all sectors of the CDFI industry; operating expenses play the driving role in determining whether CDFIs achieve self-sufficiency; and CDFIs, particularly CDFI loan funds, face numerous barriers preventing them from using and leveraging capital more effectively.

Click here to view additional resources on CDFI Industry Landscape


The Logic Model as an Outcome-Based Project Management Framework

This training module presents the Logic Model as a project planning tool to help CDFIs identify and provide a roadmap to address any impediments that may be impacting their operations and service delivery. The Logic Model not only provides a visual diagram of a sequential point of view to measure results, but it also illustrates the role of CDFIs as a potential catalyst in the development process and helps CDFIs to identify the role of other community development stakeholders. The Logic Model pushes CDFIs to think out expected outcomes, outputs, and impacts relative to any changes in their operations and business model.

Training Presentation:

  • Authors: Michael Swack, Center on Social Innovation and Finance, Carsey Institute University of New Hampshire
  • Summary: This presentation explores how CDFIs can use a basic project planning tool to help it address any impediments and challenges within its organization. The Logic Model uses the Theory of Change to create a framework for CDFIs to identify outcomes, impacts and outputs for effective problem solving. The presentation provides an example of a CDFI’s process of incorporating the Logic Model framework into its decision to launch a new product.


Additional Tools


The Four Stages of Organizational Growth

This module provides an overview of the CDFI’s Four Stages of Organizational Growth Model that allows organizations to conduct an internal assessment of its current growth stage. For each stage, the CDFI is able to perform a diagnostic evaluation of how its human resources (staff and board), financial resources, and systems and policies have impacted its operations, impact, and sustainability. The CDFI is able to understand how its internal organizational history, structures, and practices factor into its long-term success.

Training Presentation:

  • Authors: Adina Abramowitz, Consulting for Change
  • Summary: The presentation highlights the CDFI’s Four Stages of Organizational Development, which are the creativity/start-up, direction/establishment, delegation/institution, and consolidation/permanence stages. The CDFI is able to conduct an internal assessment of its current growth stage in order to identify those key organizational opportunities and barriers affecting its ability to grown. The presentation provides practical solutions for addressing these impediments in the areas of human resources (staff and board), financial resources, and systems and policies.


Fast Fact Sheets

  • Colorado Enterprise Fund: In an effort to meet an increase in loan demand during the recent economic recession, the Colorado Enterprise Fund created a new strategic plan and embarked on a staff reorganization to accommodate future growth. This case study demonstrates how CDFIs can achieve growth by doing an internal assessment of its human capital. The reorganization of its four departments has allowed the CDFI to create more external partnerships and focus on its capitalization.
  • People Fund: This case study demonstrates how a CDFI can achieve growth by rethinking its governance structure. PeopleFund engaged a consultant to recommend how it could better use its staff and governing board’s time and resources. It was recommended that PeopleFund change its board’s composition and structure, roles and responsibilities, frequency of meetings, and self-evaluation process. As a result, the governing board is focused more on its governance role, and PeopleFund was able to allocate its staff’s time on improving product and geographic expansion.


Additional Tools

  • Overview of the Organizational Development Framework: For each of the four CDFI Growth Stages, this tool highlights how changing leadership and organizational culture, systems and resources, programs, and relationships can help CDFIs transition to a new growth stage.


Click here to view additional resources on CDFI Operations

Business Model: External Environment

This module provides an overview of internal and external business models that allow CDFIs to strengthen their capacity and self-sufficiency. The module incorporates the Business Model Canvas that helps CDFIs to understand the interconnectivity between its infrastructure, product offerings, customers, and financial viability. It presents six critical action steps for CDFIs to achieve growth and scale, which are concepts to help CDFIs have a better understanding their market, potential for partnership and collaboration, opportunities for geographic and product expansion, and sound pricing strategies.

Training Presentation:

  • Author: Ginger McNally, Opportunity Finance Network
  • Summary: This presentation introduces CDFIs to simultaneous inward (infrastructure, efficiencies, and financial structure) and outward (customer acquisition/retention and value propositions) models to access long-term viability. The presentation highlights the six critical action steps for growth: clarifying your value proposition, building effective partnerships, identifying key stakeholders, assessing potential for geographic and product expansion, analyzing your market, and fine-tuning your pricing strategies.


Fast Fact Sheets

  • Latino Community Credit Union: In an effort to better meet the needs of its members, Latino Community Credit Union opened 11 branches across North Carolina to serve its Latino members and offer a safe option for depositing money, accessing affordable credit, and creating wealth for the future. As a result of the branch openings, the communities experienced an average 4.2% reduction in armed robberies and an increase of 3.8% in overall property values. This is a great example of CDFI embarking on geographic expansion.
  • Opportunity Fund: Demonstrates how CDFIs can expand by creating new products. The Opportunity Fund introduced an innovative loan product, EasyPayTM, for small business owners that ties repayment to credit and debit card sales to preserve cash flow. The EasyPayTM loan is an affordable alternative to a merchant cash advance and Opportunity Fund can approve the loan within a week. The product allows Opportunity Fund to better meet the needs of its current borrowers with seasonal businesses.


Managing and Negotiating Change

This module provides an overview of some key internal and external impediments that may impact a CDFI’s organizational effectiveness. The module offers tools focused on using the Logic Model as a project planning tool, conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis for your CDFI, identifying key stakeholders and partners, and strategies to be an effective negotiator.

Training Presentation:

  • Author: Michael Swack, Center on Social Innovation and Finance, Carsey Institute University of New Hampshire
  • Summary: This presentation introduces some of the key components of managing and negotiating change within an organization. The presentation examines the key organizational change/relationship concerns which help strengthen (or impede) the ability of the CDFI to reach its long-term strategic goals. CDFIs will understand how to identify the key stakeholders in their target markets to assist them with creating demonstrable impacts. The presentation covers such topics as good governance and the role of the board; identifying strategic partners both inside and outside the community; engaging political partners and influencing policy; and improving negotiation skills.


Additional Tools

  • Stakeholder Analysis Worksheet: This tool allows CDFIs to identify internal and external stakeholders by project, and then create a framework for gauging their interest in the project, potential impact, and strategies for obtaining their support or reducing any obstacles.
  • Negotiations Identification worksheet
  • Categories for Negotiating Power: Highlights Roger Fisher’s six categories for negotiating power. Roger Fisher, “Negotiating Power: Getting and Using Influence,” in J. William Breslin and Jeffrey Z. Rubin, eds., Negotiation Theory and Practice (Cambridge: Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, 1991), pp. 127-140.
  • Secrets of Personal Negotiation Success handout


CDFI Action Plan

This module allows CDFIs to develop a CDFI Action Plan that integrates the key models from the Strengthening Small and Emerging CDFIs workshop to help it address its key impediments to growth and scale.

Training Presentation

  • Author: Michael Swack, Center on Social Innovation and Finance, Carsey Institute University of New Hampshire
  • Summary: The CDFI Action Plan is a project planning tool that allows CDFIs to identify any internal and/or external challenges to growth, and then create a roadmap to address these impediments. The CDFI Action Plan walks CDFIs through the steps of identifying a problem and creating key action steps that highlight responsibilities, timeline, resources, potential barriers, and communication plans. CDFIs will also create metrics and an evaluation process to monitor success over the course of implementing the CDFI Action Plan.


Additional Tools


Leading Organizational Change

This module equips CDFIs with the tools to effectively obtain the resources, influence, and buy-in to assist with the development and implementation of the CDFI Action Plans.

Training Presentation

  • Author: Monica McGrath, Resources for Leadership, Inc.
  • Summary: This presentation provides CDFIs with a framework for understanding the various types of change that occurs within organizations and how to effectively approach each type based on the complexity of the problem. The presentation highlights the eight steps for leading organizational change.


Click here to view additional resources on Tools for Greater Community Development Impact

Award Highlights: Learn key facts and statistics about the full group of awardees
Searchable Award Database: View the profiles of individual awardees


For more information on the CDFI Fund and its programs, please visit