Like many people, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year refocusing my attention from clouds to silver linings. Two of my favourites observed over the pandemic are the innovations we’ve seen from organizations under stress and the outpouring of help offered by community-minded citizens to others in need. At Windmill, we have spent the past 12 months looking for ways to do more with less, serve our clients better, and open new doors for our alumni, offering them new opportunities to help newcomers through Windmill.
We innovated this past year in a number of ways. At the start of the pandemic, we gave clients a reprieve from principal payments if they needed it and explored new ways to connect with prospective clients digitally. One innovation that makes us particularly proud is our new Client Success Assessment tool. Our Client Success team created this tool to help our coaches assess their clients’ language skills, professionalism, understanding of the labour market in their field and to encourage them to reflect on any personal issues that might impede their progress towards their goals. This assessment informs a personalized action plan for each client, developed by the client and coach together in a coaching session, which often includes supports such as financial literacy programs, sector-specific referrals and employment coaching.
We’ve seen great results. Thanks in part to this new assessment tool and the conversations it promotes, Windmill clients are showing resilience through very hard times. Our client satisfaction ratings, repayment rate and income increases have all stayed high throughout the pandemic year. Our Net Promoter Score is 92, meaning that almost all our clients would enthusiastically recommend Windmill to a friend or family member. Despite the economic blows dealt to many newcomers by the lockdowns, our repayment rate has stayed over 98%, and our clients’ incomes are still increasing by 3.3 times.
The hardships created by the pandemic have produced the desire in many of us to find ways of giving back. As Windmill has evolved the capacity to take advantage of more volunteerism, our alumni have stepped up to the plate. A year ago, we launched our mentorship program; it was the first way for former clients to engage in a volunteer capacity at Windmill. We now have 105 alumni serving as mentors – expanding our clients’ professional networks and sharing advice on advancing in Canada.
This year, our alumni have stepped up to help Windmill, not only as mentors in growing numbers but in two new ways. We are delighted to announce that two wonderful former clients have become our first alumni donors and that one has been elected as a Windmill board member, the first alumni in our organization’s history to serve in this important role. Read further, and you will meet these two, special individuals, Dapo Bankole and Amir Fateh. All of us at Windmill are thrilled to see this virtuous circle created by Windmill clients giving back, with their time, skills and resources, to the newcomers who follow in their footsteps. It’s not only an innovation for Windmill, but one of my favourite silver linings of this past year.