As a grassroots nonprofit that is 100% funded by our members, Evolve is all about efficiency. That’s why, in an effort to optimize our campaign to reform Prop. 13, we have implemented a new workflow system at Evolve: the Lean Process. The Lean Process is typically used by startup companies seeking to maximize their product output and was featured in the HBO TV series “Silicon Valley.” In our case, as a nonprofit, the output we are working to maximize is raising awareness about Prop. 13 reform.
We know that the more people who find out that Chevron is saving $1 billion a year from Prop. 13 while California schools have sunk to 49th in the nation in education funding, the more people realize that it’s time for a common sense reform. And the more people we can reach out to (whether they are voters, donors, or elected officials), the more likely we are to finally close the corporate loophole in Prop. 13. This is where the Lean Process comes in: it allows us to experiment with different outreach tactics and quantify our results in order to increase efficiency and maximize our chances for success!
Since starting the Lean Process, we have been able to experiment with reaching out to groups like PTAs, Democratic clubs, and other natural allies to inform and excite people about Prop. 13 reform! Lean allows us to analyze which groups are most responsive to which campaign messages and how enthusiastic they are about helping us move the campaign forward. These experiments help us indicate where we should allocate our resources and focus our organizing efforts. So far, we have had a very positive response from the individuals and organizations we have reached out to; these people understand that after 37 years, it’s finally time to reform Prop. 13 and have corporations pay their fair share of property taxes.
Our work schedule is broken into two-week increments called “sprints.” At the end of each sprint, we meet as a group to discuss the results of our experiments and decide which new experiments to take on in the following sprint. Having a sprint meeting every two weeks gives us the chance to measure and reflect on our successes and challenges, while also making sure everyone is on the same page moving forward. It also ensures that we do not waste too much time and resources on tactics that don’t progress the campaign. We are able to keep track of all these experiments with the “experiment board” (pictured below), which allows everyone to know who is responsible for which experiments. The Lean Process provides an organized structure to keep our priorities and daily tasks in order, while also providing a clear and quantifiable model for success.
I have personally been very happy with what the Lean Process has done for me as an organizer at Evolve. This process makes day–to-day planning more manageable and provides a more organized path to a long-term strategy. I strongly suggest this process to other startups and nonprofit organizations that are looking to take their organization to the next level.