Lean nonprofits

In the startup world the idea of the lean startup has become popular shorthand for taking an idea to market, trying to find product-market fit, and scaling in a way that preserves founder/investor equity as much as possible through leanness, by requiring as little capital as possible in order to win. 

Nonprofits are often lean, but in a state closer to malnutrition than fitness. I think too many nonprofits end up reinventing the wheel by not paying attention to best practices and not putting solutions in place that equip them to scale their mission in a way that maximizes their resources.

NationBuilder is a great example of a solution not only for nonprofits but really any social mission that’s looking to organize a tribe. NationBuilder is itself a startup based in Los Angeles. What makes them exceptional is their solution is essentially “organizing in a box,” that gives a nonprofit a website, email and text communications, database management, online giving and tracking, and even a phone number that’s cloud based all for a flat monthly fee. Their pricing model echoes companies like MailChimp, where a monthly fee scales up as membership scales up.

I’ve implemented NationBuilder for a few nonprofits I’ve consulted with, and it’s fascinating to see that in one case in particular the effect of NationBuilder as a central membership platform (coupled with a smart staff) is reshaping their approach to their mission.

NationBuilder is worth a look, if for no other reason than its pricing is reasonable and it can scale with the mission.

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