Services / The Trial
Recognizing the trial as simply a test helps everyone concerned avoid paralysis induced by fear of failure. Because a test can’t fail. You just establish if the test worked or not. A trial is where you learn by doing.
By following each colour downwards and diagonally to the right, you can see how attrition diminishes the number in each acquire-month, or tranche. The attrition is expected, allowed for and does not stop bottom line growth.
Ready-Fire-Aim, in that less usual order, is an action-orientated trial approach to getting started. Let’s suppose you spread the trial pictured above over six months. By the end of this trial, you have 5 bits of actual data about attrition after 1st donation, 4 bits after the 2nd donation, 3 bits after the 3rd, 2 bits after the 4th donation. And usually enough data to prudently and seamlessly proceed to Roll-Out.
After and because you’ve “fired”, you have actual data with which to adjust your aim.
It’s easy to bogged down in planning and thinking – analysis paralysis (i.e. ready-aim-aim-aim-aim-aim…). Your NGO might never create its own self-determined funded future.
Once a trial starts, you make changes and test again – and again. Until you get it right, or decide that it is not workable. Once your representatives start talking to prospective supporters, they work out the most compelling way to present your cause. Meanwhile your staff are getting better at their part in the back end support of the programme. Everyone is finding quicker, better and smarter ways.
Trials and testing should be part of your NGO’s existing practice anyway. If you make testing part of your culture, part of just ‘how you do things round here’ then the potential risks of trying new ideas doesn’t seem so scary anymore. And if they are less scary, then there is more chance that they will happen. And that’s important because charities exist to make change happen.
Making change happen is what an entrepreneur does, as well as an NGO. Eric Ries in his book ‘The Lean Start-up’ talks about developing a ‘minimum viable product’ as a way to collect learning from customers with the least effort to test the idea. This doesn’t have to require big budgets or big risk – just the attitude to test.
Ready and want to get started?
If the Trial results are satisfactory, you can seamlessly proceed to the next step which is to Roll Out.
John Barnett (FINZ 2005-2018) (CFRE 2010-2016)
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