Do nonprofits need a business plan?

Nonprofit leaders can promote organizational success by developing a business plan that will guide mission-critical decision-making.

Planning is the only way that you can help your nonprofit organization reach its intended goals. A business plan is your tool for doing just that. With a business plan, nonprofit leaders can help their organization capture their share of charitable giving, which has grown more than 4% annually over the last six years.

A business plan enables organizational leaders to develop a clear path to reaching group objectives. The following are six steps for creating an effective plan for your nonprofit organization.

Translate Your Mission Into Actionable Goals

Your organizational mission should inform the creation of your business plan. The document should state the problem you’re trying to solve and how you intend to solve it. It should clearly outline your group’s definition of success.

The business plan should provide quantifiable goals, rather than vague generalizations of positive outcomes. By providing specifics, your document will excite and engage essential stakeholders such as community partners, financiers, volunteers and donors.

If Need Be, Learn the Basics of Organizational Strategy

The business plan highlights the significant facts about your organization. It answers questions such as “Who will benefit from the organization’s activities?” Also, it will outline what area your group will serve.

A strategic plan, however, outlines precisely how your group will meet its objectives. In a sense, it’s a plan, within the plan.

Strategic planning seems straightforward at first glance. However, it’s more challenging to develop an effective strategic plan than it may seem. Fortunately, you can take an online course to learn the basics.

provides an easy to use questionnaire that will help you to find the right strategic planning course for your needs. You can use the platform to learn the basics of business analysis so that you can develop the best strategic plan for your organization.

Take a Reality Check

Achieving your organizational objectives requires more than words on paper. You must develop a realistic plan that will help your group meet its goals. Once you’ve developed a credible strategy, organizational board members should be able to express your group’s strategy in a few clear sentences.

Clarifying your strategy is a simple brainstorming exercise. Board members can practice verbalizing a few sentences that describe the organizational strategy. In a short time, the board should be able to express in plain language a credible vision of success.

Transform Your Goals Into a Plan

Now, it’s time for the organizational leader to draft the board’s vision of success into a living, breathing business plan. At this stage, the top exec of the organization must develop milestones that contribute toward the success of each goal. If necessary, you can delegate the actual writing of the plan to a staff member.

Each milestone must include a finite deadline. Still, it’s essential to consider, and record, how the organization will respond to changing circumstances as time goes on. Furthermore, the CEO or Executive Director must outline how the organization will prove that it’s meeting its metrics or goals.

Get Down to the Basics of Writing the Plan

Now, the business plan is taking shape. However, it’s essential to consider the audience for your business plan.

It would be best if you created a business plan that caters to your audience. If, for instance, your nonprofit needs to apply for a bank loan, you must develop your business plan in a format that’s familiar with lenders. Still, all nonprofit business plans include the same general sections:

  • The table of contents
  • An executive summary
  • An overview of organizational structure
  • Possible external influences
  • Financial statements
  • Proposed ideas for sustainability

Again, drafting these sections seems straightforward. However, there are many things to consider.

Once again, an online course can come to the rescue. online business plan courses can help you learn everything you need to create an effective business plan. The website will guide you through finding the right course to create a plan for your organization.

  1. Remember – Nonprofits Have a Bottom Line Too!

No nonprofit operates solely on goodwill. No matter what shape your business plan takes, your organization will need money to promote social change.

It’s essential to make sure to plan how you will finance all the activities that will help your group meet its goals. The group’s board members should collaborate to develop all financial planning.

For nonprofits, there are many factors to consider for the financial section of the business plan. There are many types of revenue available. A few are donations from donors, foundational grants, corporate partnerships and funds from local and government agencies. The board must consider how they will pursue funding from these and other sources.

Developing a business plan will take considerable time. Still, in the end, you must condense the document to approximately ten pages.

It’s unlikely that a potential partner or other relevant stakeholders will review the entire document if it’s much longer. Furthermore, it would be best if you also created a condensed version of your business plan in a pitch style deck. This way, you can easily present your group’s goals, metrics, strategy and other vital pieces of information when needed.

Once your business plan is near completion, you should enlist the help of a consultant who specializes in developing nonprofit business plans. A consultant will help you compose your final drafts for presentation to specific audiences such as potential investors or community partners.

Ultimately, your hard work will pay off. By developing a credible business plan, you’ll drastically improve the good work your group can complete to help improve the quality of life for those in need.