Creating a Business Plan for Your Nonprofit Organization

Starting a nonprofit organization is just as complex as starting a regular, for-profit business. In fact, it can be even more complex because of the tax advantages to which nonprofit organizations are entitled. Starting a nonprofit organization should not be something that you approach flippantly. Instead, start with a strategic business plan and move forward as though you were starting any other type of business.

First of all, a business plan for a nonprofit organization should not be long, and it should be written in terms that all of the directors and/or employees can understand. Using language that is confusing or ambiguous will only hinder progress, and you’ll find yourself stuck in a rut. Instead, divide your nonprofit business plan into four simple sections, none of which should be longer than five or six pages.

Nonprofit Organization Business Plan Section 1: Mission Statement

Hopefully, if you’ve researched nonprofit organizations at all, you know that they all have a clear and proactive mission statement. You mission statement is the reason for which your nonprofit organization exists. If you want to start a community movement to collect food for the homeless, then your mission statement should say so.

A mission statement is typically one or two sentences that can be easily remembered by all members of the organization. It should address your purpose, your values, and the method with which you hope to accomplish your goals.

Ex: Wishful Thinking, Inc. is dedicated to helping foster children develop a better understanding of the world around them. Using volunteer counselors, peer mentors, community activities and active involvement, we hope to acclimate foster children to their futures in America.

Nonprofit Organization Business Plan Section 2: Goals, Objectives & Activities

This section of your business plan can be as detailed or as vague as you would like, but specifics are preferred. First, you must define your goals. What do you want to accomplish with your nonprofit organization? And how long do you expect it will take to achieve those goals?

Secondly, what are your objectives? What stands in your way of meeting those objectives, and what resources are necessary to get the ball rolling? Provide as much information as possible to outline how you will meet different objectives in different areas.

Your activities are the events, fundraisers and other ideas you have for gaining awareness, raising money and accomplishing your goals. For example, the activities for Wishful Thinking, Inc. might be to set up counseling sessions, assign Big Brothers and Big Sisters and to hold car washes with volunteers and the foster children they hope to assist.

Nonprofit Organization Business Plan Section 3: Current Resources

Your current resources are not limited to capital. This section should contain a dollar amount as well as the assets currently held by the owners/directors of the organization, but it should also list property, expertise and literature.

For example, maybe the owner of Wishful Thinking, Inc. owns a warehouse that can be converted into a recreation center for foster children. These types of resources should be listed. Here are a few examples:

– Volunteers and/or employees
– Office supplies
– Technological equipment
– Vehicles
– Presentation equipment
– Media contacts
– Celebrity contacts
– Political allies
– Service sponsors

Nonprofit Organization Business Plan Section 4: Strategic Analysis

The final part of your business plan should be a strategic analysis that reads somewhat like a case study. Pinpointing possible hurdles in your plan and identifying strategies for dealing with specific situations is key. Opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses should all be identified and addressed appropriately.

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