Hi friends, and welcome back to the series. In this article we will be covering how we decided what to include in our Minimum Viable Product (MVP). You will see how we got there, what features didn’t make the cut and what we learned in the process.
If you are wondering how we got to this point, then you can start from the beginning of the series, here or you can see all posts in the series here.
What features do we want our portal to have?
During our weekly meetings, we discussed what we want the site to look like, and what we want it to do.
Nikolaj, one of our founding members did some great work on thinking through the user experience of the site. That means he thought through the following; Who would the potential users of the site be? What do they need? How can we give them what they want?
Where it gets difficult, and what Nikolaj has been great at doing, is that your website will have to deal with a number of different users who all want different things. So how do you find the overlaps? And how do you turn all that into a coherent website?
I feel like this could be a blog post of its own so let me know if you would be interested in hearing more about it.
In the end, after much discussion, we had the following list of features we wanted our site to have:
- Tax deductions for effective charities
- The ability to collect donations
- The ability to collect recurring donations
- The ability to collect custom donation amounts
- Allowing donors to give custom amounts to different charities
- Simple Donor Management (Follow-up emails, change donation amounts, stop/pause donations)
- Negligible fees (or at least no higher than industry standard)
- Bank payments
- MobilePay payments (Danish payments service that is very widely used)
- Custom video explaining our concept
- Blog for SEO Purposes
- Donation Page
- Why Give Effectively?
- Our recommended organisations
- Detailed descriptions and analysis of each of our recommended charities
- A private donor to cover our fees (so we can send 100% of money onwards to charities)
- About us page
That was a lot…
Trimming the fat
We knew we had to narrow down our list of features. It is after all the Minimal viable product we are looking to build.
So what items could we get rid of?
In Episode 3: How to effectively contribute to a cause, we determined that we wanted to enable all of the world’s most effective charities for tax benefits in Denmark.
Since then, Mathias, one of our co-founders has had a meeting with the Norwegian and Swedish charities we are trying to emulate. They are all registered for tax benefits in their countries, but it turns out they don’t consider that anything more than a minor feature.
Instead, they see the value of their platforms as coming from introducing new people to effective charities. That meeting made us rethink how important tax benefits really were. Maybe it would be OK to launch our nonprofit without tax benefits and then simply add them later?
On top of that, we also realized, how difficult it is to get registered for tax benefits in Denmark. In comparison to Sweden and Norway, Denmark had strict conditions you had to meet in order to qualify. We could still achieve it in a few different ways, but no matter how we looked at it, the earliest we could eligible would be in 8 months.
What we realized is, even if we consider tax benefits the most important feature of our site, we won’t be able to do anything about it for another 8 months, so why not just build everything we can now?
Another important factor in us choosing to downplay this benefit is the magnitude of effect. By giving to an effective charity rather than an ineffective one you might be able to increase your impact 100X. If you compare that number to tax-deductibility, where you could increase your impact by 1.27X* by donating everything you save on your taxes. The numbers just don’t compare.
*In Denmark you can subtract 27% of the value of your donation from your taxes each year
So we get rid of tax benefits. What else?
We found that some features were more like trade-offs.
For example, adding recurring donations and card payments to our site would increase fees associated with payments, so that was at odds with keeping our fees negligible.
In the end, we chose features over fees, as we could always optimize and negotiate our way to lower fees in the future.
Features, such as a blog were easier to scrap from the list, as they are continuous processes, rather than something you can “check off” once you are done.
Our Trimmed List
Features we want to keep:
✅ The ability to collect donations
✅ The ability to collect recurring donations
✅ The ability to collect custom donation amounts
✅ Simple Donor Management (Follow-up emails, change donation amounts, stop/pause donations)
✅ Bank payments
✅ At least these four simple pages:
✅ Donate Page
✅ Why Give Effectively Page?
✅ Our recommended organisations
✅ Detailed descriptions and analysis of each of our recommended charities
✅ A private donor to cover our fees (so we can send 100% of money on)
Features we will cut out or postpone:
🚫 Negligible fees (We estimate that we can trim roughly 1.5% off of our max-fee by building a custom payment solution)
🚫 Allowing donors to give custom amounts to different charities
🚫 Blog for SEO Purposes
🚫 MobilePay payments (Turns out, it is prohibitively expensive for us to get started)
❓Custom video explaining our concept (We might still try and see if this is feasible)
🚫 Tax deductions for effective charities
🚫 About us page
- Building a nonprofit is a much, much more dynamic process than I could have imagined. Things change all the time, and what you considered essential at one point will seem redundant the next week.
- Build quickly and poorly. You can always optimize later.
- Research pays off. As an example, donations with card, as well as recurring- and custom-amount donations were all achieved with one wordpress plugin (although it did increase our fees a bit). However, it removed a lot of work in one swoop, we think it is well worth it until we can program our own widget.
Thanks for reading this far, I hope you have enjoyed the post and maybe learn’t something in the meantime. Look forward to our next post on building an MVP.