Why and How to Model a Social Business on the Lean Canvas

A social entrepreneur should be actively building and testing the assumptions in the business model from day one. Using a canvas to model the business makes the process easier and faster.

This post is the second in a series on business modelling. My previous post on how to model a non-profit on the lean canvas is recommended for changemakers in non-profits or government.

In this post I will cover how to use the lean canvas to model your social business in a way that also highlights its purpose/impact. This post applies to all types of social businesses, including for-profit social ventures and social enterprises housed within non-profits. The lean canvas can also be used whether the business seeks to create its impact with a stakeholder group (e.g. customers, employees) or is looking to donate all its profits to a non-profit.

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Why and How to Model a Non-profit on the Lean Canvas

We as changemakers tend to focus on the social or environmental problem that we seek to address and not fully consider who is our donor, what problems are we are solving for them, and why will they donate money to our organizations. The lean canvas makes defining the how we create value for the donor explicit.

There are several iterations of the lean and business model canvases now floating around for non-profits and social ventures. However, I think that the lean canvas is still the best way for a non-profit to understand and communicate its model.

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