Step 2: Beta-test & Pilot


Now that you’ve completed the most “strategic” preparation in Step 1, it’s time to take action on your strategies and assumptions by piloting your organization’s valuable service. Step 2 will guide you to launching “beta-tests” and a pilot project to test your organizations possibilities. This will come in handy for you in Step 3 to start fundraising and building capacity! Let’s start:

You’re on this page because you’ve answered “No” to either one of these questions:

  • Have you taken your organization’s idea and mission, and showed its potential to somebody through a real world example?
  • Have you tested your ideas and organization’s mission on a minimal scale?
  • Could you somehow productize/translate your idea into a tangible form to pitch to other people?
      • How would you share with someone you met in the elevator, plane, front of an audience, at a networking event, on facebook, & on email? What is your visual presentation?
  • Have you taken notes of the reactions and feedback you get when you introduce and pitch your idea/mission?

Here are additional questions you should be asking yourself while in this phase, to complete this phase:

  • Do you know what you need to do next to make your idea/mission more clear and relevant based on received feedback?
  • Do you have a solid and professional visual identity for your organization? Is it easily identified to your organization’s mission?
  • Can you measure how much interest you have already generated (on a minimal scale) in a quantifiable amount? (ex. # of supporters)
  • Have you set up a way for people to “sign up” to participate and hear more from your organization?
  • Have you tested your organization’s mission and methods already? Can you prove what works and what doesn’t work for your organization through experience?
  • How do you measure and assess the impact of your work?
  • Do you also have supporting research that your methods have been applied similarly elsewhere and was proven to be impactful?


Scenario of an organization that has confidently achieved Step 2 (continued from Step 1):

    The founder of the organization continues to keep in touch with his close network on the progress of his work through personal emails and conversations. Creating an open and transparent relationship, the founder is often offered advice and support to improve the organization’s possibilities. As a result, the founder has found great support coming from a variety of different sectors––opening his eyes to the relevancy of his nonprofit for all sectors in business, government, and creative industries.

   With many assumptions about the organization and its stakeholders, the founder realizes that he needs to test these assumptions on a minimal scale. He uses the ‘Lean’ method to quickly build, test, measure, and learn what works for his organization, the beneficiaries, and the stakeholders. The founder starts with the following:

    • Creates select social media accounts crafted to the organization’s brand and begins engaging with a broad audience of people interested in the similar issues the organization focuses on. His engagement online is open and conversational.
    • Sets up a pilot program for the organization to prove its assumptions on their methods and solutions by starting with 5 people in the local community.
    • Launches a simple website where users are directed to the organization’s visual identity, social media, blog, contact information, and the founder’s story. Within 8 seconds, most users are able to clearly understand the organization’s vision and how they are working towards achieving it. The site also allows for people to sign up to participate and to receive future updates.
    • Publicly pitches at small-medium pitch events to not only win potential funding, but to also get the organization out to a new and different audience. At each event, he discovers new feedback, connections, and ideas about his organization.

   The founder consistently records the feedback he receives and the progress of the pilot program to learn. Through all of this work to test his assumptions, the founder is able to refine his messaging to achieve more clarity and a deeper understanding of his organization work with the beneficiaries and stakeholders. Now the founder has more specific goals and insights to take his organization to the next level.


#1 Lesson: Failing Informatively (by placing small bets) For The Nonprofit Sector

Making small bets is a method to testing your assumptions and setting yourself up to learn.

(Task: Read this article and see the value of making small bets for your organization)

#2 Lesson: Lean Startup Principles and The Lean Nonprofit

 Understand the basic Lean Startup Principles and see how that connects to your organization. Have you already or can you apply them to your organization?

(Task: Read the Lean Startup Principles & The Lean Nonprofit)

#3 Activity: Test Your Value Proposition

You won’t really know how well your organization creates and delivers value until you test it! This exercise will help you dig deeper into how well you keep your promise.

(Task: Read the 5 Reasons Nonprofits Must Use the Value Proposition Canvas to Test Assumptions and Fill out your Value Proposition Canvas)


  • Matt Manos’ Intro to Designing Your Unique Brand:


  • Platform to launch your landing site: Launchrock
  • Here’s how designers approach photography as documentation: Ideation


At the end of this Step you should have the following outputs:

  • Web presence, Social media presence
  • Pilot Project
  • Assessment & proof of pilot project through story and photography
  • Carefully developed stages for your project growth and able to format your  projects as fundable stages
  • Selected specific tools and platforms to prove concepts to potential funders and constituency
  • Strong evidence of community support for the project,
  • Packaged a compelling and relevant story

Before moving to Step 3, here is the final question you should ask yourself:

  • Does your project show promise as a replicable program after all that’s been accomplished in this phase?


Next: Step 3




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