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Tips & guides 8,080 views Jul 26, 2019
Innovation on a small budget

Henry Rowling is co-founder of Flying Cars - an innovation, insight and strategy collective for charities and cause-driven brands. Henry has over a decade of experience working for some of the UK’s leading charities in strategy, innovation, product development and digital fundraising.

We know that times are tough in fundraising. More than ever in a rapidly changing world, falling response rates in traditional channels and supporters with mushrooming expectations bought about by slick digital services - the need to innovate and do things differently is greater than ever.

At Flying Cars we speak to charities large and small daily who want to find new ways to engage their audiences because the old ways are not working as well anymore. But the future is not as bleak as you may think. Through following an audience-led, iterative approach that tests and learns routinely, freeing up time in your work life by stopping the things that aren’t working, and investing in yourself and your team to learn new skills – you can succeed on a budget.

Here’s how in 12 steps.

  1. Create space to innovate. Kill off projects in your portfolio that deliver marginal impact after several years. Without freeing up time you won’t have resource to deliver innovative projects
  2. Identify the most pressing problem you are trying to solve – without a problem – there is nothing to do!
  3. Pin down your core audience – who are you interested in involving in the solution to this problem? Who is best placed to help you solve it?
  4. Speak to your audience – conduct some insight work. Beware the internal echo chamber
  5. Follow an innovation methodologyNesta has a lot of resources on their website
  6. Be networked – relentlessly build your networks of contacts inside and outside your organisation – successful innovation means using diverse brain power to solve problems in a new way
  7. Use your size to your advantage – being small means you can be nimble – don’t get bogged down in complex sign-off – find the quickest route to delivery
  8. In a small organisation you should be able to speak to your beneficiaries relatively quickly – co-create ideas with them if you can
  9. Use some of the many free tools available to test, prototype, mock up, learn new skills, smoke-test, analyse and conduct insight
  10. Test as cheaply as possible – innovation preaches lean-testing – this means getting a version of your product in front of the potential audience quickly and cheaply
  11. Don’t be afraid of failure – failure is an important part of building new solutions – if there is no failure – you aren’t trying hard enough
  12. Speak to me to talk about any impending projects you have or if you’d like a cheat sheet of free prototyping tools you can use. I would also be happy to connect you to others in this space.