Writing a Nonprofit Business Plan in 10 Steps

Do you want to start a successful Nonprofit Organization? Take the time and write a Business Plan that covers your organisation’s essentials.

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A business plan is a great starting point for a rising organization. Having a clear and well-written plan of your nonprofit’s goals and activities can help you get donators, loans, grants, volunteers, and new board members.  

The plan outlines your purpose, your message, it helps you establish milestones, and introduce your partners and beneficiaries. A diligent and detailed plan will show a high level of commitment, which is always a plus in the eyes of fund-givers. 

The writing process will motivate you to do your research and potentially uncover new opportunities. You’ll also have a set path for all your management team to follow.

If you want to develop your strategy, follow these simple steps to write a business plan for your nonprofit organization. 

1. Define Your Target Audience

A business plan can target different audiences—board of directors, funders, donors, or volunteers. To make your plan effective, you need to pick your audience. 

Writing with a specific audience in mind will help you make a personalized business plan. A plan directed to a certain audience will answer their questions and have a higher chance of winning them over. 

The audience will also help you shape your writing style. Addressing a board of directors isn’t the same as trying to raise awareness of your nonprofit and attract volunteers. 

2. Create an Outline

What you’ll write in the plan depends on your purpose and your target audience. Therefore, when you define what you want and for whom you are writing, you can start making an outline.

An outline serves as a roadmap for quality writing. Also, it is possible to write paper reviews to get more information about how it works. Put down the segments you want to address in your business plan. Those segments can be the introductory part, marketing, financial plan, etc.

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3. Come Up With a Mission Statement

For your plan to have a desirable impact, you need to clarify what’s your mission. The mission explains why your nonprofit exists and what you want to achieve through your work.

You should keep the mission statement brief. Share your values within a few sentences.

In the mission statement, you want to put focus on the following:

  • Your vision
  • Your ideas
  • Your goals

Defining your mission will also help your organization stay on the right trajectory. You’ll always have the statement to come back to and be reminded of your purpose.

4. Introduce Your Nonprofit

Once you grab the reader’s attention with your powerful mission, they’ll want to know more. The next segment should tell the reader a little more about your nonprofit. Before they support your cause, the readers will want to know who you are.

What you can share in the introductory part is:

5. Explain Your Programs and Services

What the readers will be most interested in is what you do and what you plan to do. You need to further explain what are your nonprofit’s programs and service.

Focus on how you contribute to the community and how the funds/assistance you need can help you expand. Be specific about the needs that you meet and your beneficiaries.

To make your nonprofit stand out, mention other nonprofits that do similar work to yours. State how your actions and plans differ from their activities. By explaining how your organization is unique you’ll answer the reader’s questions: “Why should I choose this nonprofit?” 

6. Share Your Marketing Plan

Without a strategic marketing plan, achieving your goals will be much harder. The funders and volunteers will be more confident in your organization if you know how to raise awareness.

In the business plan, you should mention the basics of your marketing strategy, such as:

  • Target market
  • Market analysis results
  • Past outreach activities and initiatives (if applicable)
  • Your marketing plan (digital marketing, advertising, and public relations)
  • Expected outcomes of planned marketing activities

Considering that online marketing is pivotal for effective marketing strategy, polish up your online presence before you start looking for funders. You can order website review to assess your website, revise your social media accounts, and check what people are saying about your organization on forums. 

Also, including quantifiers such as the number of volunteers that joined after your past outreach can add credibility to your plan. So, feel free to back up your marketing strategy with data. 

7. Describe Your Operational Plan

The operational plan needs to explain how your nonprofit operates. You should also clarify in what way you will evaluate the effectiveness of your programs and services.

In this section, you should explain the following:

  • How you deliver activities
  • How you maintain your operations
  • How your day-to-day operations look like
  • What legal requirements you need to meet
  • What items you need to deliver results
  • How you’ll evaluate results
  • Who are the crucial people in your team

8. State Your Funding Needs

Your nonprofit can’t operate without sufficient funds that support your activities. The readers will want to know about your ability to delegate funds as well as your expected expenses for upcoming plans.

The financial segment of your business plan should contain:

  • Your current financial status
  • Relevant financial documents (financial projections, income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet)
  • Contributions, grants, and other funds you’ve received
  • Your plan for raising funds
  • Your financial management plan
  • Gaps in your funding
  • Costs of putting your plan in motion

9. End of the Business Plan with Appendix

If you want to supply helpful additional documents, you can do that in the appendix. These documents can be any technical information or charts that prove your claims.

The appendix can make your plan more concise and understandable. For example, the balance sheets, income statements, and other financial documents can make the financial plan too long. But if you include those documents in the appendix, the business plan will be more comprehensive.

10. Revise the Plan Regularly

Your nonprofits business plan isn’t an unchangeable document. You can revise it and adapt it whenever you find it necessary.

As your strategy and plans evolve, so should your plan. So, make sure that you go back to the business plan whenever something changes in your organization. 

Wrapping Up

A carefully written business plan can help you express your passion and determination to make a change. It can also keep your team focused on a single goal, which is necessary for achieving results. Therefore, dedicate yourself to writing a great business plan and give your nonprofit a powerful tool for growth.  

Author’s bio

Jessica Fender is a copywriter and blogger with a background in marketing and sales. She enjoys sharing her experience with like-minded professionals who aim to provide customers with high-quality services.

FAQ

What is a nonprofit business plan?

A nonprofit business plan is a strategic document that outlines the goals, mission, and operational strategies of a nonprofit organization.

Why do nonprofit organizations need a business plan?

Nonprofits need a business plan to provide direction, attract donors, secure funding, and effectively manage their operations.

What are the key components of a nonprofit business plan?

A nonprofit business plan typically includes sections on the organization’s mission, programs, fundraising strategies, governance, and financial projections.

How does a nonprofit’s mission statement factor into the business plan?

The mission statement is a critical part of the business plan as it defines the organization’s purpose and guides its activities and decision-making.

What should be included in the program section of a nonprofit business plan?

The program section should detail the nonprofit’s activities, services, and how they fulfill its mission, including program goals and outcomes.

How can a nonprofit organization outline its fundraising strategies in the business plan?

The business plan should describe the nonprofit’s fundraising methods, including grants, donations, events, and partnerships, and how these support its mission.

What is the role of the governance section in a nonprofit business plan?

The governance section outlines the structure of the nonprofit’s board, its responsibilities, and the policies and procedures for decision-making and accountability.

How can financial projections be included in a nonprofit business plan?

Financial projections should include revenue and expense forecasts, budgets, and cash flow statements to demonstrate the organization’s financial sustainability.

Are nonprofit business plans static documents?

No, nonprofit business plans should be dynamic and updated regularly to reflect changes in the organization’s goals, strategies, and external factors.

How can nonprofit organizations use their business plans as a tool for growth and success?

Nonprofits can use their business plans to set clear objectives, measure progress, attract donors, and ensure alignment with their mission to achieve long-term success.

What are the benefits of having a well-defined nonprofit business plan?

A well-defined nonprofit business plan helps organizations secure funding, attract supporters, improve decision-making, and stay focused on their mission.

Is there a standard format for creating a nonprofit business plan?

While there isn’t a strict standard format, nonprofit business plans often include an executive summary, mission statement, program descriptions, financial projections, and a strategic roadmap.

Can a nonprofit business plan help in obtaining grants?

Yes, a comprehensive business plan can significantly increase a nonprofit’s chances of securing grants by demonstrating its commitment to sustainability and impact.

How long should a nonprofit business plan typically be?

Nonprofit business plans can vary in length but are generally concise, with most falling between 15 to 30 pages, excluding appendices.

What role does the strategic roadmap play in a nonprofit business plan?

The strategic roadmap outlines the nonprofit’s goals, objectives, and the steps it will take to achieve them, providing a clear path for growth and impact.

Should a nonprofit business plan include a marketing and outreach strategy?

Yes, it’s crucial to include a marketing and outreach strategy to reach donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries effectively and raise awareness of the organization’s mission.

Can a nonprofit business plan be used to measure the organization’s success?

Yes, the business plan serves as a benchmark for success by outlining goals and objectives, which can be tracked and measured over time.

How often should a nonprofit revisit and update its business plan?

Nonprofits should review and update their business plans annually or whenever significant changes occur in their operations or goals.

Are there resources available to help nonprofits create effective business plans?

Yes, there are many online templates, workshops, and nonprofit support organizations that offer guidance and resources for creating business plans.

Can a nonprofit business plan be shared with stakeholders and the public?

Yes, sharing the business plan with stakeholders, including board members, staff, donors, and the public, can foster transparency and build trust in the organization’s mission and operations.

What role does the board of directors play in creating a nonprofit business plan?

The board of directors typically plays a crucial role in approving and guiding the development of the nonprofit’s business plan.

Can a nonprofit business plan help with organizational sustainability?

Yes, a well-crafted nonprofit business plan can outline strategies for financial stability, ensuring the organization’s long-term sustainability.

How can a nonprofit business plan address risk management?

The business plan can include risk assessments and strategies for mitigating potential challenges, helping the organization prepare for uncertainties.

Is it necessary for small nonprofits to have a business plan?

Yes, even small nonprofits can benefit from having a business plan to establish clear goals and strategies for achieving their mission.

What should be considered when projecting revenue in a nonprofit business plan?

Revenue projections should consider diverse income sources, including grants, donations, fundraising events, and program fees, with a focus on realistic estimates.

Can a nonprofit business plan be adapted for specific projects or initiatives?

Yes, nonprofits can create project-specific business plans to outline goals, budgets, and strategies for specific initiatives within the organization.

How can a nonprofit business plan address the changing needs of beneficiaries?

The plan can include mechanisms for regularly assessing and adapting programs to meet the evolving needs of the people or communities served.

Are there any legal or regulatory requirements for nonprofit business plans?

While there are no strict legal requirements, some grantmakers may request a business plan as part of their application process, and it’s good practice for compliance and transparency.

Can a nonprofit business plan help in building partnerships and collaborations?

Yes, a business plan can showcase the nonprofit’s mission and objectives, making it easier to establish partnerships and collaborations with like-minded organizations.

How can a nonprofit measure the success of its business plan?

Success can be measured by evaluating whether the organization achieved its stated goals, increased its impact, secured funding, and effectively executed its strategies outlined in the plan.

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