Non-Profit Business Plan

A roadmap for the non-profit organization

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What is a Non-Profit Business Plan?

A non-profit business plan is simply a roadmap for a non-profit organization, one which outlines the organization’s goals and objectives, and how it plans to attain them. A non-profit is a business entity that is started for any specified purpose other than making a profit. The most common reason for a non-profit organization is charity work.

Non-Profit Business Plan

Even though there are considerable differences between a profit and non-profit company, many of the same regulations apply. In fact, non-profit organizations need detailed and structured planning just like any other business. One of the core tasks of a non-profit startup entails developing a business plan.

This overview explains why non-profits should formulate business plans, and includes the required elements in such a plan.

Uses of a Non-Profit Business Plan

Owners of non-profit organizations need business plans for the following reasons:

  • Persuading big donors or foundations to finance their projects
  • Hiring board members who can help them in terms of getting a clearer idea of what they are committing themselves to
  • Acting as a compass for the whole non-profit organization – to prevent key players from straying or going off the main course
  • When applying for business loans, especially if the non-profit has plans to start a store, restaurant, gift shop, or other venture that can help fund its programs

One thing to keep in mind is that the business plan is not rigid. It should be created in such a way that it leaves room for adaptive changes. In this way, non-profit owners can adjust their plans as the organization grows.

Components of a Non-Profit Business Plan

A non-profit organization can use the business plan throughout its life, making changes to it whenever necessary. For a startup non-profit, the business plan can be quite brief as compared to that of a more mature non-profit. The plan may vary depending on the specific organization, however, there are a couple of things that should be included in every non-profit business plan.

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary is a brief breakdown of the contents outlined in the business plan. The trick here is to provide an interesting summary that will keep the reader engaged enough to go through the entire plan. Under this section, the non-profit owner can describe the organization’s mission, a short background of how and why it was started, and its unique strengths. He or she can also outline the non-profit’s products, services, and programs. Additionally, the owner needs to include the organization’s marketing and financial plans.

2. Organizational Structure

Under this section, the owner simply needs to explain how the non-profit is structured, starting from the board of directors and working down to executive staff. He or she should also highlight subsidiaries (if there are any), objectives, strategies on how to scale up, and a few trends in this particular non-profit area.

3. Products, Programs or Services Rendered

The products and services that were listed in the executive summary are now described in a more comprehensive way under this section. The individual should also incorporate unique features such as the delivery methods, sources of products, the benefits of the non-profit’s products and services, as well as future development plans. This section should also provide information relating to any copyrights or patents that the non-profit holds.

4. Marketing Plan

What is the target market or audience of the non-profit’s programs? How does the nonprofit intend to reach these people? What constituencies does the non-profit aim to serve? The marketing plan should provide detailed answers to these questions. For instance, the owner should outline the competitors of his non-profit, as well as other non-profits that may be potential collaborators.

5. Operational Plan

Under this section, the owner will be trying to answer questions such as: How does the nonprofit deliver its products or services? What is the location of its main facility? Does the nonprofit have any equipment or inventory needs? Essentially, the individual should explain the exact strategies he plans to use to maintain the operation. This section also covers the impact of the non-profit’s programs and services on clients and on the community at large.

6. Management and Organizational Team

This part covers the names and details of the staff in the management team. It also includes a list of board members and their respective areas of expertise. The easiest way to explain the non-profit’s management team is through the use of an organizational chart.

The chart outlines all the non-profit’s staff and the roles they play in the organization. Another thing to include in this section is the non-profit’s evaluation of its present and future staffing needs. Once the organization grows, it may need to hire several volunteers, an IT expert, accountants, and more.

7. Capitalization

Capitalization is another element that should not be left out in a non-profit’s business plan. This is the section where the owner lists all the non-profit’s outstanding loans, debts, bonds, and endowments. Endowments refer to government or private grants that the non-profit has received or applied for.

8. Appendix

In the appendix, the owner should incorporate the resumes of key staff, a list of the members of the board of directors, relevant charts and graphs, promotional materials, mission and vision statements, and an annual report if the non-profit is not a startup.

The Bottom Line

Non-profit organizations need to be managed effectively, just like any other enterprise. The best way to achieve this is by developing a business plan. A non-profit business plan serves as a roadmap or compass for the entire organization. Put simply, it outlines the non-profit’s goals and objectives, its organizational structure, marketing, financial, and operational plans, as well as the products or services rendered by the organization.

Related Readings

CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:

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