5 Nonprofits That Are NAILING It Using Lean Principles

Last week, we explained what it means “When Nonprofits Get Lean, Differently”.

Now the important question – how? As a community, we’ll answer this question in many different ways.  For now, here are a few examples to get our lean thinking wheels turning:

1. Tipping Point Community


Build ? Measure ? Learn

Tipping Point Community is launching ‘The Lab’ in summer of 2013. During the 6 month program, problem solvers will design and test new ways to fight poverty in the Bay Area.

Renuka Kher, chief innovator behind ‘The Lab’ and COO of Tipping Point Community, says, “Our overall aim is to make a high risk philanthropic investment in shortening the ‘product development cycle’ that is prevalent in the social sector.

2. Queers for Economic Justice


Minimum Viable “Product”

Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ) is pioneering a new innovative project called “Queer Survival Economies.” QEJ debuted the concept at the 2012 Creating Change Conference, the largest LGBTQ conference in the world.

How did they debut it? Scrappily sketched on two pieces of paper, which were taped together the night before. QEJ didn’t need a polished position paper or a shiny diagram – they didn’t even need a power point (imagine!). All they needed was a simple sketch. Now that’s lean thinking!

3. Acumen Fund


Entrepreneur is a Job Title

For larger organizations, fostering innovation is key. Acumen Fund has a position titled, “Chief Innovation Officer,” which shows their commitment to ever-increasing impact and relevance in the long-term.

4. Change.org


Validated Learning – A/B Split Testing

Change.org* drives their entire product development cycle with the Lean Startup method. When the team releases a new feature, they use A/B split testing to determine whether the feature increases impact.

Sam McAfee, Director of Web Engineering at Change.org, says, “We formulate our product strategy as a series of hypotheses. We use data to inform these hypotheses such that we can reason about how we might improve performance.”

*Change.org is not a nonprofit. It is a social enterprise and a Certified B Corporation. We are following the debate about Change.org’s business model and their standing as a progressive organization. Read the full story and Change.org’s response.

5. You

[Your Idea Here]

How are you using Lean Startup thinking to achieve more impact? Follow @Startwithus to gain insightful tools for leveraging Lean Startup thinking. Stay tuned for details about the Lean Impact Summit, which will bring together thought leaders to share ideas about how nonprofits can get lean, differently.

Your Turn: Do you know of more nonprofits using lean thinking? Share with us below in the Comments section and Tweet us @leanimpact.

Image Source:  www.tippingpoint.org

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