Validating the Program: A Pre-Pilot for the Charity Growth Academy


The Charity Growth Academy is a new educational program from CanadaHelps designed to help charities grow and thrive. To ensure that the program meets the needs of its participants, we conducted a pre-pilot program to help us in identifying any areas that needed improvement before the main pilot began.

During the pre-pilot, we worked with a small number of charities to test out the program and get feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and what could be better so that all charities who participate in the future can gain as much from it as possible. 

Keep reading to learn more about how the pre-pilot program works, what we learned from it, and how you can get involved in the main pilot.

What is a pre-pilot?

A pre-pilot program is a small-scale test of a new program or initiative. It allows organizations to gather feedback and make any necessary changes before rolling the program out on a larger scale. In the pre-pilot, three organizations completed a digital assessment focused on technology, processes, and digital skills, and received a customized action plan.

Why conduct a pre-pilot?

Conducting a pre-pilot program is an important step in developing any new program. It allows organizations to identify any potential problems and make changes before the program is launched on a larger scale. This helps to ensure that the program is as successful as possible.

How did the pre-pilot program work?

The pre-pilot program for the Charity Growth Academy was designed to test out the program and gather feedback from participants. We worked with three charities of varying sizes and digital capacities to test out the program. This allowed us to get a range of feedback and identify any areas that need improvement. The participants included:

Each charity participated in the program for a few weeks. During this time, they received group-based and 1-on-1 coaching, as well as access to online resources. At the end of the pre-pilot, we interviewed each participant to understand their experience in the pre-pilot, and to gather their valuable feedback to help us learn and evolve the program.

What did we learn from the pre-pilot?

Overall, the pre-pilot was a success! We received positive feedback from all of the participants and were able to identify a few areas for improvement. Here are some of the things we learned:

  • The coaching component of the program was very successful and participants found it helpful.
  • Participants appreciated having access to online resources, but some felt that they were overwhelming.We know that people working within charities are constantly juggling priorities, so easy access and clear communication will be a priority as we evolve this program.
  • There was a lot of interest in the program, but some charities were not able to commit to the timelines. Building capacity within charities so they can invest time in skills development and long-term planning, and ensuring they have the necessary resources, is a challenge across the sector and one we want to help address. 

Based on the feedback from the pre-pilot, we iterated on our plans for the full Charity Growth Academy pilot, which launched in May 2022. We’ve built a range of supports into the main pilot, including grants, the support of skilled volunteers, additional, curated training resources, and a structure that supports progress and momentum. We will continue to evolve the program based on testing what works, and feedback from the charities participating. 

What's next for the Charity Growth Academy?

Since our inception, CanadaHelps has looked for innovative ways to support the sector and democratize access to critical tools and programs from within the sector. We’re designing our program with the ambitious goal of scaling it so it can be available to every charity in Canada.

The learnings from our pilot will help us evolve the program and begin to offer it to more charities, understand and offer more supports to program participants, bring on more partners and offer more resources, and engage and co-create with our colleagues in the sector to share insights, offer new engaging content, and make big change.

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, sign up for updates today!

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