The D2D Story

The last decades of the twentieth century saw tremendous innovation in technology, communications and, especially, financial services – yielding an array of new products and services that were often most relevant to sophisticated, wealthy consumers.  During this same time period, social scientists were rethinking strategies helping lower-income people achieve their financial goals.  The asset building field emerged as a new paradigm with an emphasis on wealth creation – rather than just current income – to foster economic security, support financial self-discipline and launch social mobility.

It was from the intersection of these two developments – financial innovation and asset building – that D2D emerged.   In the late 1990s, D2D co-founder Peter Tufano, then a newly tenured professor at Harvard Business School, recognized that promising demonstrations of asset building programs for working people were not necessarily scalable or sustainable.   Transforming pilot test results into broad-based impact for millions of working families would require applying many of same techniques of financial innovation that drive new product offerings for more affluent consumers available in the private sector.  Tufano’s observation led to D2D’s first product development effort, a web-based infrastructure designed to support a national savings program with reach, scale, and efficiency.

From the lessons of this first effort, D2D developed an approach to innovation that marries private sector capabilities and scope with nonprofit ideals.  Incorporated in 2000 as a 501c3 organization and small by design, D2D aims to make the “mass market” viable and attractive to serve, designing appealing financial products that break down traditional barriers to access and participation. At the core of this approach is innovation, such as a reduction in the cost to serve working families, imaginative new products and delivery channels, subtle changes in public policy, and new tools to help inform and incentivize consumers.

D2D has had a 15 year record of success in driving innovation that achieves impact through cross-sector partnerships that harness the power of the market. D2D efforts have spawned new financial products and public policies responsible for helping 300,000 Americans to accumulate nearly $200 million dollars in savings.  The organization has twice impacted the federal tax code to facilitate saving, and developed tools which nearly half a million Americans have used to strengthen their financial capability.

Looking ahead, we have ambitious goals. By 2018, we will influence key financial system actors in industry and government to introduce new products and to foster useful public policy that will generate $100MM of economic impact for 500,000 financially vulnerable Americans.