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8 Tips to Develop a Peer-to-Peer Money Management Course

Improving the financial capabilities of our nation’s citizens benefits individuals, communities, and our whole country. The peer-to-peer training model helps organizations increase the reach and frequency of personal finance training programs at minimal delivery cost.

Peer-to-peer training refers to training users of the targeted demographic to teach personal finance to their peers. While some programs employ teachers that do not connect with the end user, peer-to-peer trainers have a personal understanding of what their fellow associates feel. This model builds support for your organization’s goals and empowers participants with life-improving financial knowledge.

This page gives 8 clear steps to developing a successful peer-delivered personal finance class, applying a best practices peer training model. The 8 steps are Planning, Educator Selection, Financial Literacy Material, Educator Training, Measurement, End User Experience, Launch & Awareness, and Sustainability.
 
The National Financial Educators Council developed this approach as part of the peer-to-peer college money management campaigns  delivered campus-wide at Arizona State University.  But peer training programs are not just for youth.  The model has been used successfully by military veteran organizations, colleges, employers, schools, and religious groups—any organization seeking to improve its members’ financial capacities.
 
Tips to Developing a Peer Money Management Courses
 
1) Planning.  Financial literacy programs need to align with larger objectives.  For example, a credit union hoping to increase membership might set up a new accounts table at a financial literacy event.  And financial education programs should be multi-dimensional: for maximum impact, they should cover the full scope of money topics that people can apply to the real world.  Careful planning is a key step.

Identify end goals for the program itself, and then tie them into your overall organizational objectives.  Do you want to generate new accounts, introduce new services, increase community goodwill, get media attention, build networks, or enhance the customer experience?  A financial literacy program offers an excellent vehicle to get you there.
 
Aligning the money management course objectives with broader organizational goals also helps garner support among other groups within your organization.  For example, enlist the support of upper management by presenting data that show how financial literacy training increases employee productivity.  Appeal to the marketing and public relations departments by using the program to attract positive media coverage.  Bringing your team together helps your program grow and succeed. 

2) Educator Selection Process.  Choosing educators with superb capabilities and enthusiasm is crucial to the success of your peer-to-peer initiative.  In your educator search, look for peer educators with a deep-rooted passion for helping people learn about money.  Ask them to share personal stories that illustrate why they’re passionate. Besides this underlying purpose, some other qualities you should look for are public speaking skills, professionalism, motivation, likeability, and a desire to learn.  

Peer-to-peer financial literacy and money management classes by the NFEC
 
3) Educator Training and Development.  Next, your peer educators must be well-prepared to present the money management course material effectively.  The educator carries enormous responsibility for the initiative’s impact, so good instructor training is critical.  Use the NFEC’s Certified Financial Education Instructor program, which has trained peer educators for a variety of organizations including colleges, veteran groups, churches, and high schools. 

Your financial instructor training program must provide peer educators the knowledge, credibility, and confidence to effectively teach money management.  Well-trained instructors make the classroom experience fun, engaging, and motivating—inspiring participants of all ages to take positive action.
 
4) Financial Literacy Presentations.  Balance real world financial education with educational standards by designing presentations targeted to the age group you’re trying to reach.  Use the NFEC’s turnkey financial literacy presentations to deliver motivational, engaging, and educational material that moves students to take positive action.  The NFEC peer-to-peer program that’s now being used campus-wide at ASU combines videos of students, celebrities, and actors to create an entertaining mix of classroom material.

(Please note:  For groups teaching kids and teens about money, we suggest that you avoid curriculum developed by credit card companies or other groups whose purposes contradict the message.)
 
5) Measurement.  To quantify program results and educator effectiveness, you need clear measurement tools in place from the onset.  Measuring progress toward key outcomes ensures that the program meets your objectives. 

One of the measurement tools the NFEC recommends is Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher-order Thinking Skills, which provides a framework to quantify participant improvement in financial capability.  The NFEC also offers several other quantifiable assessments.  Gather data using pre- and post-tests, surveys, and measures of long-term behavior change. 
 
6) End User Experience.  Many financial education programs being offered today are boring.  To create a successful peer-to-peer training program that isn’t boring, maximize the end user experience.  Give your event an exciting look and feel, relate the teaching and outreach style to the target participants, build in multiple touchpoints, and provide support group training. 

Create a memorable experience for your participants. They’ll enjoy the process and continue talking about the program long after the event is over. 
 
7) Launch and Awareness.   Stage a high-profile launch supported by a wide-scale awareness campaign.  Use the launch event to create momentum and buzz on a large scale.  The more awareness you create, the greater your program’s impact.  Thousands of quality financial education programs take place worldwide each year, but only a few generate enough awareness to attract a crowd.  Get the word out by leveraging collaborative relationships, public relations efforts, PSA campaigns, and traditional marketing methods (like direct mail, email, TV and radio advertising). 
 
8) Sustainability.  Revenue and funding are essential elements to sustaining your peer-to-peer financial education program.  The NFEC suggests finding sponsors interested in funding the initiative, and delivering them results that help them meet their organizational and philanthropic objectives.  For example, you might approach the largest employer in your community for funding.  In return, offer them employee money management courses.  Show how supporting your event could result in increased employee productivity and reduced absenteeism. 

Building a sustainable, effective financial literacy campaign takes superb planning and effort.  But the potential long-lasting results can help organizations and participants alike to reach a stunning level of success.