Incubate a revenue stream for your nonprofit organization in 8 weeks
alongside other nonprofit innovators


$2500 PER TEAM

MAY, 2020





  • “I had the best experience. This was better than any MBA class. This is the "real world" component that most other classes only claim to give.
    –Martio Gutierrez, Save a Mind Foundation, Philadelphia

  • “I would recommend this program to anyone who would like a quick, intensive course about earned income revenue structures in a non-profit. I took a LOT away from this course”
    –Katie Petersen, Senior Program Manager, Embarc Chicago

  • “The Accelerator provides all the necessary steps to get you started and thinking about the details and processes to create the income activity. The peer feedback is great and materials are very helpful to transform an idea to something more concrete. Great structure and content. Receiving feedback from Acumen and other peers was key to learning.”
    –Carlota Ferrari, Global Programs Officer, The Hunger Project

  • “What’s really exciting about being in an Accelerator is that you get to see what’s working and what not quickly!”
    –Ayala Goldstein, Community Partnerships Manager, California School Age Consortium

  • “There's a lot I've learned that will help United Way. The desirability, feasibility, viability framework has probably been the biggest lesson. It's a simple but powerful way of approaching unstructured problems and makes it very chunk up the work in ways that others can understand. I'd love to move the organization in the direction of continuously approaching our work in shorter cycles like this. We learned and achieved so much in 6 short weeks!”
    –Andrew Courtney, Director of Operations and Digital Services, United Way


This program is designed for established nonprofit organizations (NGOs) with at least 3 years of operating experience looking to generate a new source of funding. Nonprofit leaders at any level who are looking to bring more entrepreneurial thinking to their work are welcome to apply! You should apply with a specific, mission-aligned idea to generate revenue that you hope to develop through the accelerator program. Common ideas from past participants include: packaging a curriculum or training, starting a consulting service, running a paid event, selling a product or service to a new customer segment, or building a new platform. You should have a reliable internet connection and be willing to learn from peers. If you are just starting a nonprofit and/or do not yet have any initial source of funding, this program is not the best fit for you.


Rapidly prototype a product or service to earn mission-aligned revenue for your nonprofit organization.

Develop a model to help your organization create, deliver and capture value from your offering.

Get tips & avoid pitfalls by learning from other nonprofit organizations with earned income streams.

Understand the impact capital spectrum and where to look for seed funding for your idea.

Practice pitching your idea to board members, potential funders, or other stakeholders.


We’ve packaged the steps to help nonprofit leaders to develop a social enterprise model. Over 8 weeks, you and your team will learn the basics of developing an earned income stream, complete your own assignments, and then share them via interactive Learning Labs. You’ll join a select cohort of other nonprofit leaders to give and receive feedback on your ideas. You should expect to spend at least 6 hours per week working on your project. Most of this work can be done on your own schedule. You will need a Lead Participant to show up to the Learning Lab each week and can have up to 10 people from your organization access all the curriculum materials. You can continue to access the online learning materials and peer community even after the program ends.

Practical Tutorials

Complete 1 hour of self-paced tutorials each week in a dedicated portal. Tutorials will feature practical case studies, frameworks, and strategies that you can apply directly to your organization's work.


Weekly Project

Spend at least 3 hours per week working on a structured exercise to advance your idea. You’ll interview customers, analyze competitors, build prototypes, and learn quickly.


Interactive Learning Lab

Live interactive session with your cohort. You’ll share a status update on your project and receive feedback from +Acumen and your peers. This is where the magic really begins to happen!




    Continued access to a dedicated portal with guides and videos for each step of the nonprofit social enterprise journey.


    Be part of a small cohort of forward-thinking innovative nonprofit leaders & make lasting professional connections.


    Receive input on your work from +Acumen, based on Acumen’s years of experience training social innovators and investing in social enterprises.


    This is a hands-on, project-based curriculum. You won’t just sit in front of your computer screen, but instead get out into the real world to test your idea and then share your work with a virtual community.


Nonprofit leaders are busy. We’ve packaged the key steps for developing a social enterprise model into an 8-week sprint to make it as accessible as possible.
Orientation will be held on May 6 and the program runs from May 14 to June 25. The final showcase where you present to outside experts will be held on June 26th.



  • Get Oriented
  • Meet Your Peers
  • Earned Income 101
  • The Desirability, Feasibility and Viability Framework
  • 7 Characteristics of Successful Earned Income Ventures
  • Case Study: Aravind Eyecare
  • Case Study: Seedco
  • Featured Expert: Peter Kim of Bridgespan
  • Featured Expert: Kathleen Kelly Janus, author of Social
         Startup Success
  • Assignment: Hypothesis Dashboard


The Social Enterprise Mindset

  • Introduction to Customer Discovery
  • Value Proposition Design
  • Case Study: La Casa de Don Pedro
  • Featured Expert: Patricia Price of IDEO.org
        and HumanSights
  • Assignment: Customer Interviews
  • Learning Lab


Customer Discovery

  • Value Proposition Consultations
  • Assignment: Customer Interviews


Map Your Organizational Core and Business Model

  • Connecting Customer Insights to a Business Model
  • Types of Nonprofit Business Models
  • How to Create a Core Map
  • How a Business Model Fits Together
  • Nonprofit Revenue Engines
  • Introduction to the Business Model Canvas
  • Case Study: First Book
  • Featured Expert: Vikki Tam of Bain and Company
  • Assignment: Business Model Canvas and Core Map
  • Learning Lab


Size Your Market and Develop
Your Financial Model

  • How to Size Your Market
  • How to Set Price
  • Financial Model Template
  • How to Complete the Products/Services and Costs Tab
        of Your Financial Model
  • How to Connect Your Financial Numbers to Your Social
  • Case Study: Drive Change
  • Featured Expert: Meradith Leebrick of IPPF
  • Assignment: Financial Model
  • Learning Lab


Develop and Test a Minimum
Viable Product

  • What is a Minimum Viable Product?
  • Business Experiment Design
  • Examples of MVPs
  • Case Study: Living Goods
  • Featured Expert: Ann Mei Chang, USAID and Lean Impact
  • Featured Expert: Nabila Amarsy, UNDP and Strategyzer
  • Assignment: MVP Development
  • Learning Lab


Individual Consultations and Presentation Development

  • Assignment: MVP Testing
  • Consultation on Business Experiments


Final Showcase

  • Present your final projects to experts from Acumen’s
          networks for feedback


Contact our Program Manager.


6 Peer Learning Labs and 2 Coaching Consultations

Final Showcase where you receive feedback from outside experts

Lifetime access to 22 video tutorials, practical case studies sharing the detailed experiences of other organizations, and 6 workbooks with step-by-step instructions for each stage of the process hosted on a dedicated resource portal (curriculum will remain accessible after the 8-week program ends)

Sample assignments showcasing other nonprofit business models

Certificate in Nonprofit Innovation from +Acumen

Final Feedback Report from +Acumen and a LinkedIn endorsement if you successfully complete the Accelerator

Frequent Questions

  • How are participants selected?

    We are looking for participants who (1) have a specific idea to generate income for an existing nonprofit organization (2) are excited about learning from peers (3) have a strong and reliable internet connection to participate in video calls. We will review applications on a rolling basis and invite finalists for a 30 minute phone interview.

  • What is the tuition?

    Tuition is $2500 per organization. Scholarships of up to 50% are available and special consideration may be given to earlier stage organizations in emerging markets.

  • How many organizations have participated? What have been the results?

    50 organizations from around the world have participated in the accelerator program to date. Around 75% of all who start the program successfully complete the accelerator within the 8 weeks and emerge with a plan for testing an earned income idea. Several organizations have generated sales and revenue during the accelerator program. More commonly, participants emerge with a roadmap for continuing to test and update their idea and many of them use the tools and curriculum to test other ideas after the program ends. Some of them discover quickly that their initial idea will not work--and they report that their time was well spent discovering this sooner rather than later! In the months following the program organizations have generated up to $60k in revenue and attracted additional capital from funders who were impressed by their plans to achieve financial stability and diversify their funding models.

  • How will this be different from a +Acumen free course?

    We’ve heard repeatedly from +Acumen course participants that they want more facilitated interaction with peers and feedback on their assignments. Since we can’t offer this at scale to thousands of learners in our free courses, we are excited to be piloting these new Accelerator models so that we can give a smaller group of our best students targeted feedback and a more facilitated experience. Although this Accelerator will build upon some of the core content covered in other +Acumen courses, the video tutorials and case studies were developed exclusively for this Accelerator.

  • Am I guaranteed to emerge with a profitable idea?

    No. There are no guarantees of profitability in the field of social entrepreneurship. This Accelerator will offer you a structured process for testing out potential ideas to generate earned income for your nonprofit organization, but there is no guarantee that the idea you generate through this 8-week program will be the exact one that starts to earn revenue from your organization. All good ideas require iteration and development as they interact with the market. However, you will gain a replicable process for quickly testing ideas so that you can learn faster and identify a promising business model more efficiently in the long run. We’ll do our best to set you up for success using the best tools and case studies we’ve come across in Acumen’s 15+ years as an impact investor.

  • Do I need to attend all Learning Labs?

    The Learning Labs are the core of this experience. We strongly recommend that each organization designate one Lead Participant who can attend all 6 Labs. If you cannot tend for any reason, you should designate a substitute from your organization.

  • What if I can’t participate this round?

    We plan to offer a next session later in 2019. Sign up to receive information on the next cohort.

  • Will I earn a Certificate?

    Lead Participants will receive a Certificate and detailed feedback report from +Acumen if you successfully complete the Accelerator.

  • How much time should I expect to spend each week?

    The more time you put in, the better the outcomes! We’ve streamlined the steps in this process so that you should be able to complete all activities within 6 hours per week, but there will certainly be opportunities for you to go deeper and spend much more time on each stage to significantly develop your ideas. If you can’t commit to at least 6 hours for 8 weeks, this probably isn’t the program for you. You can also divide some of the work on your assignments amidst other people on your nonprofit team.

  • How much feedback will I receive from +Acumen?

    You will receive a written feedback report each week that compiles feedback from your Acumen coach and peers. You will also have two coaching consultations. Acumen coaches will also be available to ask questions online during the accelerator.

  • Are scholarships available?

    Yes. We will do our best to accomodate all eligible nonprofits who are committed to developing an earned income idea. Scholarships of up to 50% are available and special consideration may be given to earlier stage organizations in emerging markets.

  • How many people per organization can participate in the Learning Lab?

    One person per organization should participate in the weekly Learning Lab. This should be the same person each week. Up to 10 additional people from your organization can access all of the curriculum materials and participate in completing the weekly assignments.

  • What technology will I need to access?

    You will need to be able to use and download video conference software and access an online learning platform provided by +Acumen. We expect you to have a strong, reliable internet connection to participate in the weekly Learning Labs via video conference.