3 Sample Nonprofit Business Plans For Inspiration
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Below are three sample plans to help guide you in writing a nonprofit business plan.
- Example #1 – Kids Are Our First Priority (KAOFP) – a Nonprofit Youth Organization based in Chicago, IL
- Example #2 – Church of the Sacred Heart – a Nonprofit Church based in St. Louis, MO
- Example #3 – Finally Home – a Nonprofit Homeless Shelter in Los Angeles, CA
Sample Nonprofit Business Plan #1 – Kids Are Our First Priority (KAOFP) – a Nonprofit Youth Organization based in Chicago, IL
Kids Are Our First Priority (KAOFP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit youth organization that seeks to provide opportunities for students who might otherwise not have access to the arts and humanities. We believe all students should have the opportunity to discover and develop their interests and talents, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location. We offer completely free after-school programming in music production, digital photography, creative writing, and leadership development to 12-18-year-olds at risk of dropping out of high school.
Our organization has been active for over five years and has run highly successful programs at two schools in the city of Chicago. We have been awarded an active grant from a local foundation for this coming year, but we will need to cover all costs on our own after that point. Nonprofit administrators have seen a lot of turnovers, leaving the organization without a sustainable plan for reaching its goals.
The Kids Are Our First Priority (KAOFP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit youth organization with a mission to provide opportunities for development and self-expression to students who might otherwise not have access. Audiences include at-risk, low-income students from elementary through high school in the Chicago area.
Our programs are built around creative learning with two goals: firstly, creating a space for learning and growth; secondly, encouraging students to share their work with the world.
KAOFP runs three different programs in partnership with closely related nonprofit organizations, providing after-school programming for elementary, middle, and high school-aged children. Programs take place twice a week at different schools around Chicago. While each program is unique in its goals and activities, all programs focus on creative development in the arts and humanities.
Products, Programs, and Services
The three programs offered by KAOFP are Leadership Development (LD), Creative Writing (CW), and Music Production (MP). Students learn in small groups led by skilled instructors. All activities are designed to encourage student engagement, creativity, expression, and community building. Instructors encourage students to share their work with the world through presentations on- and off-site.
Leadership Development (LD)
The Leadership Development program is designed to provide leadership opportunities for high school students who might not otherwise have access to these experiences. Students learn about facilitation, collaboration, communication, and organizational skills as they plan and run projects of their own design. The program’s goal is to provide a structured environment that encourages students to become more confident and comfortable being leaders in their schools, communities, and future careers.
Creative Writing (CW)
Students learn how to use writing creatively as a tool for expression, discovery, and communication. In small groups led by skilled instructors, students write poetry, short stories, and essays of their own design. They also learn about the publishing industry, read each others’ work, and share their writing with the community.
Music Production (MP)
Students learn how to use digital media as a tool for expression, discovery, and communication. In weekly sessions led by skilled instructors, students explore music production through computer software and recording equipment. Students produce their own music and write about their experiences in weekly journals. Industry professionals in the community often volunteer to lead special workshops and seminars.
The youth arts and humanities field is extremely competitive. There are many different types of nonprofit organizations doing similar work, but few credible providers with long-term commitments to their communities. KAOFP’s greatest strengths and competitive advantages are our stable and qualified staff, a strong foundation of funding and community support, and a diverse set of programs.
Our biggest competitors include national non-profits with large budgets for advertising and marketing as well as commercial programs that offer music lessons and creative writing courses which may be more cost-effective than our programs. We feel that by focusing on specific areas of creative expression, KAOFP can better serve its communities and differentiate itself from other nonprofit organizations effectively.
KAOFP serves elementary, middle, and high school-aged students with programs that include both after-school and summer programming.
Our focus is on low-income neighborhoods with a high population of at-risk youth. In these areas, KAOFP fills a void in the education system by providing opportunities for creative expression and leadership development to students who would not otherwise have access to these resources.
The demographics of our current students are as follows:
- 91% African-American/Black
- 6% Hispanic/Latino
- 5% Multiracial
- 3.9% Low Income
- 4.9% Not Identified
Our main target is low-income African American and Latino youth in Chicago Public Schools. We would like to expand our outreach to include other communities in need of creative enrichment opportunities.
KAOFP’s marketing program is designed to support student, parent, and staff recruitment by promoting the organization’s goals and programs. Our main target audience consists of parents seeking after-school enrichment opportunities for their children that emphasize creativity and the arts.
To reach this audience, we advertise in public schools as well as on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We intend to begin marketing online through a company-sponsored blog, which will feature regular updates about KAOFP events and activities. We also intend to use word of mouth as a form of marketing.
Strategic partnerships with local schools and community centers will provide us with additional exposure as well as additional resources to secure funding.
KAOFP’s day-to-day operation is structured around its programs on Tuesdays from 4 pm to 8 pm.
Administrative offices are located in the same space as each program, allowing instructors to closely monitor their students and provide support as needed. The administrative offices serve the essential function of fundraising, communications, record-keeping, and volunteer coordination. KAOFP’s Board of Directors meets bi-monthly to provide further leadership, guidance, and oversight to our board members and volunteers.
Customer service is conducted by phone and email during our regular business hours of Monday – Friday 9 am to 12 pm. We are not open on weekends or holidays.
KAOFP’s organizational structure includes a Board of Directors, an Executive Director, and Program Directors. The Board of Directors provides guidance and oversight to the organization, while the Executive Director manages day-to-day operations. The Program Directors oversee each of KAOFP’s programs.
KAOFP has a small but dedicated staff that is committed to our students and our mission. Our team has a wide range of experience in the arts, education, and nonprofit sector.
The Executive Director is responsible for the overall management of KAOFP. This includes supervising staff, developing and implementing programs, overseeing finances, and representing the organization to the public.
Our Executive Director, Susie Brown, has been with KAOFP since its inception in 2010. She has a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Susie is responsible for the overall management of KAOFP, including supervising staff, developing and implementing programs, overseeing finances, and representing the organization to the public.
Each of KAOFP’s programs is overseen by a Program Director. The Program Directors are responsible for developing and implementing the program curricula, recruiting and training program instructors, and evaluating student progress.
Art Program Director
The Art Program Director, Rachel Smith, has a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is responsible for developing and implementing the program curricula, recruiting and training program instructors, and evaluating student progress.
Music Program Director
The Music Program Director, John Jones, has a B.A. in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is responsible for developing and implementing the program curricula, recruiting and training program instructors, and evaluating student progress.
Theatre Program Director
The Theatre Program Director, Jane Doe, has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is responsible for developing and implementing the program curricula, recruiting and training program instructors, and evaluating student progress.
Board of Directors
KAOFP’s Board of Directors provides guidance and oversight to the organization. The Board consists of community leaders, educators, artists, and parents. Board members serve three-year terms and can be renewed for one additional term.
KAOFP’s annual operating budget is approximately $60,000 per year, with an additional one-time cost of about $10,000 for the purchase of equipment and materials. The agency makes very efficient use of its resources by maintaining low overhead costs. Our biggest expense is instructor salaries, which are approximately 75% of total expenses.
Pro Forma Income Statement
Pro forma balance sheet, pro forma cash flow statement, nonprofit business plan example #2 – church of the sacred heart – a nonprofit church based in st. louis, mo.
The Church of Sacred Heart is a nonprofit organization located in St. Louis, Missouri that provides educational opportunities for low-income families. We provide the best quality of education for young children with tuition rates significantly lower than public schools. It has been voted Best Catholic Elementary School by the St Louis Post Dispatch for four years running, and it has maintained consistently high ratings of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google Reviews since its opening in 1914.
The Church of Sacred Heart strives to build strong relationships with our community by making an impact locally but not forgetting that we operate on global principles. As such, our school commits 10% of its profits to charitable organizations throughout the world every year, while also conducting fundraisers throughout the year to keep tuition rates affordable.
We are currently transitioning from a safe, high-quality learning environment to an even more attractive facility with state-of-the-art technology and modern materials that will appeal to young students and their families. New facilities, such as additional classrooms and teachers’ lounges would allow us not only to accommodate new students but also attract current families by having more places within the school where they can spend time between classes.
By taking full advantage of available opportunities to invest in our teachers, students, and facilities, we will be able to achieve steady revenue growth at 4% per year until 20XX.
The Church of Sacred Heart provides a safe learning environment with an emphasis on strong academics and a nurturing environment that meets the needs of its young students and their families. Investing in new facilities will allow us to provide even better care for our children as we continue to grow as a school.
Mission Statement: “We will strive diligently to create a safe, respectful environment where students are encouraged and inspired to learn through faith.”
Vision Statement: “Sacred Heart believes education gives every child the opportunity to achieve their full potential.”
The Church of the Sacred Heart was built in 1914 and is located in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood, an area with a high concentration of poverty, crime, unemployment, and abandoned buildings.
The church houses the only Catholic school for low-income families in the north city; together they formed Sacred Heart’s educational center (SCE). SCE has strived to provide academic excellence to children from low-income families by providing a small, nurturing environment as well as high academic standards.
The facility is in need of renovations and new equipment to continue its mission.
The Church of the Sacred Heart is a small nonprofit organization that provides a variety of educational and community services.
The services provided by Sacred Heart represent a $5 billion industry, with nonprofit organizations accounting for $258.8 billion of that total.
The health care and social assistance sector is the largest among nonprofits, representing 32 percent of revenues, followed by educational services (18 percent), and human and other social service providers (16 percent).
The key customers for the Church of the Sacred Heart are families in need of affordable education. The number of students in the school has increased from 500 when it opened in 1914 to 1,100 at its peak during 20XX-20XX but has since declined due to various reasons.
The children at Sacred Heart are from low-income families and 91 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches. Most parents work or have a family member who works full-time, while others don’t work due to child care restraints. The number of children enrolled in Sacred Heart is stable at 1,075 students because there is a lack of affordable alternatives to Catholic education in the area.
SCE offers K-5th grade students a unique learning experience in small groups with individualized instruction.
Sacred Heart has an established brand and is well known for its high standards of academic excellence, which include a 100 percent graduation rate.
Sacred Heart attracts prospective students through promotional materials such as weekly bulletins, mailers to homes that are located in the area served, and local churches.
Parents and guardians of children enrolled in Sacred Heart are mainly referrals from current families, word-of-mouth, and parishioners who learn about the school by attending Mass at Sacred Heart.
The Church of Sacred Heart does not currently advertise; however, it is one of the few Catholic schools that serve low-income families in St. Louis, MO, and therefore uses word of mouth to attract new students to its school.
The Church of Sacred Heart has an established brand awareness within the target audience despite not having direct marketing plans or materials.
The operations section for the Church of the Sacred Heart consists of expanding its after-school program as well as revamping its facility to meet the growing demand for affordable educational services.
Sacred Heart is located in an area where more than one-third of children live below the poverty line, which helps Sacred Heart stand out among other schools that are more upscale. Expansion into after-school programs will allow it to capture a larger market share by providing additional services to its target audience.
In order to expand, Sacred Heart will have to hire additional personnel as well as invest in new equipment and supplies for both the school and the after-school program.
The Church of Sacred Heart’s financial plan includes a fundraising plan that would help renovate the building as well as acquire new equipment and supplies for the school.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Catholic elementary schools across all grade levels spend an average of $6,910 per pupil on operating expenses. A fundraising initiative would help Sacred Heart acquire additional revenue while expanding its services to low-income families in St Louis, MO.
The Church of the Sacred Heart expects to generate revenues of about $1.2 million in fiscal year 20XX, representing a growth rate of 2 percent from its 20XX revenue level. For 20XX, the church expects revenues to decrease by 4 percent due to a decline in enrollment and the lack of new students. The Church of Sacred Heart has experienced steady revenue growth since its opening in 1914.
- Revenue stream 1: Tuition – 22%
- Revenue stream 2: Investment income – 1%
Despite being located in a poverty-stricken area, the Church of Sacred Heart has a stable revenue growth at 4 percent per year. Therefore, Sacred Heart should be able to attain its 20XX revenue goal of $1.2 million by investing in new facilities and increasing tuition fees for students enrolled in its after-school program.
Income Statement f or the fiscal year ending December 31, 20XX
Revenue: $1.2 million
Total Expenses: $910,000
Net Income Before Taxes: $302,000
Statement of Financial Position as of December 31, 20XX
Cash and Cash Equivalents: $25,000
Property and Equipment: $1.2 million
Intangible Assets: $0
Total Assets: $1.5 million
The board of directors has approved the 20XX fiscal year budget for Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which is estimated at $1.3 million in revenues and $920,000 in expenditures.
Cash Flow Statement f or the Fiscal Year Ending December 31, 20XX
Operating Activities: Income Before Taxes -$302,000
Investing Activities: New equipment and supplies -$100,000
Financing Activities: Fundraising campaign $200,000
Net Change in Cash: $25,000
According to the 20XX fiscal year financial statements for Sacred Heart Catholic Church, it expects its investments to decrease by 4 percent and expects to generate $1.3 million in revenues. Its total assets are valued at $1.5 million, which consists of equipment and property worth approximately 1.2 million dollars.
The Church of Sacred Heart’s financial statements demonstrate its long-term potential for strong revenue growth due to its steady market share held with low-income families in St. Louis, MO.
Nonprofit Business Plan Example #3 – Finally Home – a Nonprofit Homeless Shelter in Los Angeles, CA
Finally Home is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide low-income single-parent families with affordable housing. The management team has a strong background in the social service industry and deep ties in the communities they plan to serve. In addition, Finally Home’s CEO has a background in real estate development, which will help the organization as they begin developing its operations.
Finally Home’s mission is to reinvent affordable housing for low-income single-parent families and make it more sustainable and accessible. They will accomplish this by buying homes from families and renting them out at an affordable price. Finally Home expects its model of affordable housing to become more sustainable and accessible than any other model currently available on the market today. Finally Home’s competitive advantage over similar organizations is that it will purchase land and buildings from which to build affordable housing. This gives them a greater amount of ownership over their communities and the properties in which the homes are located, as well as freedom when financing these projects.
Finally Home plans on accomplishing this by buying real estate in areas with high concentrations of low-income families who are ready to become homeowners. These homes will be used as affordable housing units until they are purchased by Finally Home’s target demographic, at which point the organizations will begin renting them out at a base rate of 30% of the family’s monthly household income.
Finally Home plans on financing its operations through both private donations and contributions from foundations, corporations, and government organizations.
Finally Home’s management team has strong backgrounds in the social service industry, with deep ties to families that will be prepared to take advantage of Finally Home’s affordable housing opportunities. The CEO of Finally Home also brings extensive real estate development experience to the organization, an asset that will be especially helpful as Finally Home begins its operations.
Finally Home is a nonprofit organization, incorporated in the State of California, whose mission is to help homeless families by providing them with housing and support services. The centerpiece of our program, which will be replicated nationwide if successful, is an apartment complex that offers supportive living for single parents and their children.
The apartments are fully furnished, and all utilities are paid.
All the single parents have jobs, but they don’t earn enough to pay market-rate rent while still paying for other necessities such as food and transportation.
The organization was founded in 20XX by Henry Cisneros, a former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who served under President Bill Clinton. Cisneros is the chairman of Finally Home’s board of directors, which includes leaders with experience in banking, nonprofit management, and housing professions.
The core values are family unity, compassion for the poor, and respect for our clients. They are the values that guide our employees and volunteers at Finally Home from start to finish.
According to the United States Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness 20XX Report, “Hunger & Homelessness Survey: A Status Report on Hunger & Homelessness in America’s Cities,” almost half (48%) of all homeless people are members of families with children. Of this number, over one quarter (26%) are under the age of 18.
In 20XX, there were 9.5 million poor adults living in poverty in a family with children and no spouse present. The majority of these families (63%) have only one earner, while 44% have zero earners because the person is not old enough or does not work for other reasons.
The total number of people in poverty in 20XX was 46.5 million, the largest number since Census began publishing these statistics 52 years ago.
Finally Home’s goal is to help single parents escape this cycle of poverty through providing affordable housing and case management services to support them long term.
Unique Market Position
Finally Home creates unique value for its potential customers by creating housing where it does not yet exist.
By helping single parents escape poverty and become self-sufficient, Finally Home will drive demand among low-income families nationwide who are experiencing homelessness. The high level of need among this demographic is significant nationwide. However, there are no other organizations with the same market position as Finally Home.
Finally Home’s target customers are low-income families who are experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles area. The organization will actively seek out these families through national networks of other social service providers to whom they refer their clients regularly.
Finally Home expects to have a waiting list of families that are interested in the program before they even open their doors.
This customer analysis is based on the assumption that these particular demographic groups are already active users of other social service programs, so referrals will be natural and easy for Finally Home.
This information is based on the assumption that these particular demographic groups are already active users of other social service programs, so referrals will be natural and easy for Finally Home.
There is a growing demand for low-income single-parent housing nationwide, yet there is no one organization currently providing these services on a national level like Finally Home.
Thus, Finally Home has a competitive advantage and market niche here because it will be the only nonprofit organization of its kind in the country.
Finally Home’s marketing strategies will focus on attracting potential customers through national networks of other social service providers. They will advertise to their referral sources using materials developed by the organization. Finally Home will also advertise its services online, targeting low-income families using Google AdWords.
Finally Home will be reinventing affordable housing to make it more accessible and sustainable for low-income single parents. In this new model, Finally Home will own the land and buildings on which its housing units are built, as well as the properties in which they are located.
When a family is ready to move into an affordable housing unit, Finally Home will buy the home they currently live in. This way, families can take advantage of homeownership services like property tax assistance and financial literacy courses that help them manage their newfound wealth.
Finally Home has already partnered with local real estate agents to identify properties for purchase. The organization expects this to result in homes that are at least 30% cheaper than market value.
Finally Home will finance its operational plan through the use of private contributions and donations from public and private foundations, as well as corporate sponsorships.
Finally Home’s management team consists of:
- Veronica Jones, CEO, and Founder
- Mark MacDonald, COO
- Scott Bader, CFO
The management team has a strong history of social service advocacy and deep ties in the communities they plan to serve. In addition, the organization’s CEO has a background in real estate development that will be helpful as Finally Home begins operations.
- Year 1: Operation startup costs to launch first five houses ($621,865)
- Year 2: Deliver on market offer and complete first capital raise ($4,753,000)
- Year 3: Deliver on market offer and complete $5 million capital raise ($7,950,000)
- Year 4+: Continue to grow market share with a national network of social services providers ($15,350,000).
This nonprofit business plan will serve as an effective road map for Finally Home in its efforts to create a new model for affordable housing.
How to Finish Your Nonprofit Business Plan in 1 Day!
Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your nonprofit business plan?
With Growthink’s Ultimate Nonprofit Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!
Other Helpful Nonprofit Business Planning Articles
- Nonprofit Business Plan Guide & Template
- How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan
- 10 Tips to Make Your Nonprofit’s Business Plan Stand Out
- How to Write a Mission Statement for Your Nonprofit Organization
- Strategic Planning for a Nonprofit Organization
- How to Write a Marketing Plan for Your Nonprofit Business
- 4 Top Funding Sources for a Nonprofit Organization
- What is a Nonprofit Organization?
- 20 Nonprofit Organization Ideas For Your Community
How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan in 12 Steps (+ Free Template!)
The first step in starting a nonprofit is figuring out how to bring your vision into reality. If there’s any tool that can really help you hit the ground running, it’s a nonprofit business plan!
With a plan in place, you not only have a clear direction for growth, but you can also access valuable funding opportunities.
Here, we’ll explore:
- Why a business plan is so important
- The components of a business plan
- How to write a business plan for a nonprofit specifically
We also have a few great examples, as well as a free nonprofit business plan template.
Let’s get planning!
What Is a Nonprofit Business Plan?
A nonprofit business plan is the roadmap to your organization’s future. It lays out where your nonprofit currently stands in terms of organizational structure, finances and programs. Most importantly, it highlights your goals and how you aim to achieve them!
These goals should be reachable within the next 3-5 years—and flexible! Your nonprofit business plan is a living document, and should be regularly updated as priorities shift. The point of your plan is to remind you and your supporters what your organization is all about.
This document can be as short as one page if you’re just starting out, or much longer as your organization grows. As long as you have all the core elements of a business plan (which we’ll get into below!), you’re golden.
Why Your Nonprofit Needs a Business Plan
While some people might argue that a nonprofit business plan isn’t strictly necessary, it’s well worth your time to make!
Here are 5 benefits of writing a business plan:
Secure funding and grants
Did you know that businesses with a plan are far more likely to get funding than those that don’t have a plan? It’s true!
When donors, investors, foundations, granting bodies and volunteers see you have a clear plan, they’re more likely to trust you with their time and money. Plus, as you achieve the goals laid out in your plan, that trust will only grow.
Solidify your mission
In order to sell your mission, you have to know what it is. That might sound simple, but when you have big dreams and ideas, it’s easy to get lost in all of the possibilities!
Writing your business plan pushes you to express your mission in the most straightforward way possible. As the years go on and new opportunities and ideas arise, your business plan will guide you back to your original mission.
From there, you can figure out if you’ve lost the plot—or if it’s time to change the mission itself!
Set goals and milestones
The first step in achieving your goals is knowing exactly what they are. By highlighting your goals for the next 3-5 years—and naming their key milestones!—you can consistently check if you’re on track.
Nonprofit work is tough, and there will be points along the way where you wonder if you’re actually making a difference. With a nonprofit business plan in place, you can actually see how much you’ve achieved over the years.
Attract a board and volunteers
Getting volunteers and filling nonprofit board positions is essential to building out your organization’s team. Like we said before, a business plan builds trust and shows that your organization is legitimate. In fact, some boards of directors actually require a business plan in order for an organization to run!
An unfortunate truth is that many volunteers get taken advantage of . With a business plan in place, you can show that you’re coming from a place of professionalism.
Research and find opportunities
Writing a business plan requires some research!
Along the way, you’ll likely dig into information like:
- Who your ideal donor might be
- Where to find potential partners
- What your competitors are up to
- Which mentorships or grants are available for your organization
- What is the best business model for a nonprofit like yours
With this information in place, not only will you have a better nonprofit business model created—you’ll also have a more stable organization!
Free Nonprofit Business Plan Template
If you’re feeling uncertain about building a business plan from scratch, we’ve got you covered!
Here is a quick and simple free nonprofit business plan template.
Basic Format and Parts of a Business Plan
Now that you know what a business plan can do for your organization, let’s talk about what it actually contains!
Here are some key elements of a business plan:
First of all, you want to make sure your business plan follows best practices for formatting. After all, it’ll be available to your team, donors, board of directors, funding bodies and more!
Your nonprofit business plan should:
- Be consistent formatted
- Have standard margins
- Use a good sized font
- Keep the document to-the-point
- Include a page break after each section
- Be proofread
Curious about what each section of the document should look like?
Here are the essential parts of a business plan:
- Executive Summary: This is your nonprofit’s story—it’ll include your goals, as well as your mission, vision and values.
- Products, programs and services: This is where you show exactly what it is you’re doing. Highlight the programs and services you offer, and how they will benefit your community.
- Operations: This section describes your team, partnerships and all activities and requirements your day-to-day operations will include.
- Marketing : Your marketing plan will cover your market, market analyses and specific plans for how you will carry out your business plan with the public.
- Finances: This section covers an overview of your financial operations. It will include documents like your financial projections, fundraising plan , grants and more
- Appendix: Any additional useful information will be attached here.
We’ll get into these sections in more detail below!
How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan in 12 Steps
Feeling ready to put your plan into action? Here’s how to write a business plan for a nonprofit in 12 simple steps!
1. Research the market
Take a look at what’s going on in your corner of the nonprofit sector. After all, you’re not the first organization to write a business plan!
- How your competitors’ business plans are structured
- What your beneficiaries are asking for
- Potential partners you’d like to reach
- Your target donors
- What information granting bodies and loan providers require
All of this information will show you what parts of your business plan should be given extra care. Sending out donor surveys, contacting financial institutions and connecting with your beneficiaries are a few tips to get your research going.
If you’re just getting started out, this can help guide you in naming your nonprofit something relevant, eye-catching and unique!
2. Write to your audience
Your business plan will be available for a whole bunch of people, including:
- Granting bodies
- Loan providers
- Prospective and current board members
Each of these audiences will be coming from different backgrounds, and looking at your business plan for different reasons. If you keep your nonprofit business plan accessible (minimal acronyms and industry jargon), you’ll be more likely to reach everyone.
If you’d like, it’s always possible to create a one page business plan AND a more detailed one. Then, you can provide the one that feels most useful to each audience!
3. Write your mission statement
Your mission statement defines how your organization aims to make a difference in the world. In one sentence, lay out why your nonprofit exists.
Here are a few examples of nonprofit mission statements:
- Watts of Love is a global solar lighting nonprofit bringing people the power to raise themselves out of the darkness of poverty.
- CoachArt creates a transformative arts and athletics community for families impacted by childhood chronic illness.
- The Trevor Project fights to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning young people.
In a single sentence, each of these nonprofits defines exactly what it is their organization is doing, and who their work reaches. Offering this information at a glance is how you immediately hook your readers!
4. Describe your nonprofit
Now that your mission is laid out, show a little bit more about who you are and how you aim to carry out your mission. Expanding your mission statement to include your vision and values is a great way to kick this off!
Use this section to highlight:
- Your ideal vision for your community
- The guiding philosophy and values of your organization
- The purpose you were established to achieve
Don’t worry too much about the specifics here—we’ll get into those below! This description is simply meant to demonstrate the heart of your organization.
5. Outline management and organization
When you put together your business plan, you’ll want to describe the structure of your organization in the Operations section.
This will include information like:
- Team members (staff, board of directors , etc.)
- The specific type of nonprofit you’re running
If you’re already established, make a section for how you got started! This includes your origin story, your growth and the impressive nonprofit talent you’ve brought on over the years.
6. Describe programs, products and services
This information will have its own section in your nonprofit business plan—and for good reason!
It gives readers vital information about how you operate, including:
- The specifics of the work you do
- How that work helps your beneficiaries
- The resources that support the work (partnerships, facilities, volunteers, etc!)
- If you have a membership base or a subscription business model
Above all, highlight what needs your nonprofit meets and how it plans to continue meeting those needs. Really get into the details here! Emphasize the work of each and every program, and if you’re already established, note the real impact you’ve made.
Try including pictures and graphic design elements so people can feel your impact even if they’re simply skimming.
7. Create an Executive Summary
Your Executive Summary will sit right at the top of your business plan—in many ways, it’s the shining star of the document! This section serves as a concise and compelling telling of your nonprofit’s story. If it can capture your readers’ attention, they’re more likely to read through the rest of the plan.
Your Executive Summary should include:
- Your mission, vision and values
- Your goals (and their timelines!)
- Your organization’s history
- Your primary programs, products and services
- Your financing plan
- How you intend on using your funding
This section will summarize the basics of everything else in your plan. While it comes first part of your plan, we suggest writing it last! That way, you’ll already have the information on hand.
You can also edit your Executive Summary depending on your audience. For example, if you’re sending your nonprofit business plan to a loan provider, you can really focus on where the money will be going. If you’re trying to recruit a new board member, you might want to highlight goals and impact, instead.
8. Write a marketing plan
Having a nonprofit marketing plan is essential to making sure your mission reaches people—and that’s especially true for your business plan.
If your nonprofit is already up and running, detail the work you’re currently doing, as well as the specific results you’ve seen so far. If you’re new, you’ll mostly be working with projections—so make sure your data is sound!
No matter what, your Marketing Plan section should market research such as:
- Beneficiary information
- Information on your target audience/donor base
- Information on your competitors
- Names of potential partners
Data is your friend here! Make note of market analyses and tests you’ve run. Be sure to also document any outreach and campaigns you’ve previously done, as well as your outcomes.
Finally, be sure to list all past and future marketing strategies you’re planning for. This can include promotion, advertising, online marketing plans and more.
9. Create a logistics and operations plan
The Operations section of your business plan will take the organizational information you’ve gathered so far and expand the details! Highlight what the day-to-day will look like for your nonprofit, and how your funds and resources will make it possible.
Be sure to make note of:
- The titles and responsibilities of your core team
- The partners and suppliers you work with
- Insurance you will need
- Necessary licenses or certifications you’ll maintain
- The cost of services and programs
This is the what and how of your business plan. Lean into those details, and show exactly how you’ll accomplish those goals you’ve been talking about!
10. Write an Impact Plan
Your Impact Plan is a deep dive into your organization’s goals. It grounds your dreams in reality, which brings both idealists and more practically-minded folks into your corner!
Where your Executive Summary lays out your ambitions on a broader level, this plan:
- Clarifies your goals in detail
- Highlights specific objectives and their timelines
- Breaks down how you will achieve them
- Shows how you will measure your success
Your Impact Plan will have quite a few goals in it, so be sure to emphasize which ones are the most impactful on your cause. After all, social impact is just as important as financial impact!
11. Outline the Financial Plan
One of the main reasons people want to know how to write a nonprofit business plan is because of how essential it is to receiving funding. Loan providers, donors and granting bodies will want to see your numbers—and that’s where your Financial Plan comes in.
This plan should clearly lay out where your money is coming from and where it will go. If you’re just getting started, check out what similar nonprofits are doing in order to get realistic numbers. Even if you’re starting a nonprofit on a tight budget , every bit of financial information counts!
First, map out your projected (or actual) nonprofit revenue streams , such as:
- Expected membership contributions
- Significant donations
- In-kind support
- Fundraising plan
Then, do the same with your expenses:
- Startup costs
- Typical bills
- Web hosting
- Membership management software
- Costs of programs
If your nonprofit is already up and running, include your past accounting information. Otherwise, keep working with those grounded projections!
To make sure you have all of your information set, include documents like:
- Income statement
- Cash flow statement
- Balance sheet
This information comes together to show that your nonprofit can stay above water financially. Highlighting that you can comfortably cover your operational costs is essential. Plus, building this plan might help your team find funding gaps or opportunities!
12. Include an Appendix
Your appendix is for any extra pieces of useful information for your readers.
This could be documents such as:
- Academic papers about your beneficiaries
- Publications on your nonprofit’s previous success
- Board member bios
- Organizational flow chart
- Your IRS status letter
Make sure your additions contribute to your nonprofit’s story!
Examples of Business Plans for Nonprofits
Here are two great examples of nonprofit business plans. Notice how they’re different depending on the size of the organization!
Nonprofit Recording Co-op Business Plan
This sample nonprofit business plan shows what a basic plan could look like for a hobbyists’ co-op. If your nonprofit is on the smaller, more local side, this is a great reference!
What we like:
- Details on running a basic membership model
- Emphasis on what it means to specifically be a sustainable cooperative
- A list of early milestones, such as hitting their 100th member
- Clarification that all recordings will be legal
Nonprofit Youth Services Business Plan
This sample nonprofit business plan is for a much larger organization. Instead of focusing on the details of a membership model, it gets deeper into programs and services provided.
What we like
- The mission is broken down by values
- A detailed look at what each program provides
- A thorough sales plan
- Key assumptions are included for the financial plan
How to Create a Nonprofit Business Plan With Confidence
We hope this sheds some light on how creating a nonprofit business plan can help your organization moving forward! Remember: you know what you want for your organization. A business plan is simply a tool for making those dreams a reality.
Is a membership program part of your business plan? Check out WildApricot ’s award-winning membership management software!
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Business Planning for Nonprofits
Business planning is a way of systematically answering questions such as, “What problem(s) are we trying to solve?” or “What are we trying to achieve?” and also, “Who will get us there, by when, and how much money and other resources will it take?”
The business planning process takes into account the nonprofit’s mission and vision, the role of the board, and external environmental factors, such as the climate for fundraising.
Ideally, the business planning process also critically examines basic assumptions about the nonprofit’s operating environment. What if the sources of income that exist today change in the future? Is the nonprofit too reliant on one foundation for revenue? What happens if there’s an economic downturn?
A business plan can help the nonprofit and its board be prepared for future risks. What is the likelihood that the planned activities will continue as usual, and that revenue will continue at current levels – and what is Plan B if they don't?
Narrative of a business plan
You can think of a business plan as a narrative or story explaining how the nonprofit will operate given its activities, its sources of revenue, its expenses, and the inevitable changes in its internal and external environments over time. Ideally, your plan will tell the story in a way that will make sense to someone not intimately familiar with the nonprofit’s operations.
According to Propel Nonprofits , business plans usually should have four components that identify revenue sources/mix; operations costs; program costs; and capital structure.
A business plan outlines the expected income sources to support the charitable nonprofit's activities. What types of revenue will the nonprofit rely on to keep its engine running – how much will be earned, how much from government grants or contracts, how much will be contributed? Within each of those broad categories, how much diversification exists, and should they be further diversified? Are there certain factors that need to be in place in order for today’s income streams to continue flowing?
The plan should address the everyday costs needed to operate the organization, as well as costs of specific programs and activities.
The plan may include details about the need for the organization's services (a needs assessment), the likelihood that certain funding will be available (a feasibility study), or changes to the organization's technology or staffing that will be needed in the future.
Another aspect of a business plan could be a "competitive analysis" describing what other entities may be providing similar services in the nonprofit's service and mission areas. What are their sources of revenue and staffing structures? How do their services and capacities differ from those of your nonprofit?
Finally, the business plan should name important assumptions, such as the organization's reserve policies. Do your nonprofit’s policies require it to have at least six months of operating cash on hand? Do you have different types of cash reserves that require different levels of board approval to release?
The idea is to identify the known, and take into consideration the unknown, realities of the nonprofit's operations, and propose how the nonprofit will continue to be financially healthy. If the underlying assumptions or current conditions change, then having a plan can be useful to help identify adjustments that must be made to respond to changes in the nonprofit's operating environment.
Basic format of a business plan
The format may vary depending on the audience. A business plan prepared for a bank to support a loan application may be different than a business plan that board members use as the basis for budgeting. Here is a typical outline of the format for a business plan:
- Table of contents
- Executive summary - Name the problem the nonprofit is trying to solve: its mission, and how it accomplishes its mission.
- People: overview of the nonprofit’s board, staffing, and volunteer structure and who makes what happen
- Market opportunities/competitive analysis
- Programs and services: overview of implementation
- Contingencies: what could change?
- Financial health: what is the current status, and what are the sources of revenue to operate programs and advance the mission over time?
- Assumptions and proposed changes: What needs to be in place for this nonprofit to continue on sound financial footing?
More About Business Planning
Budgeting for Nonprofits
Contact your state association of nonprofits for support and resources related to business planning, strategic planning, and other fundamentals of nonprofit leadership.
- Components of transforming nonprofit business models (Propel Nonprofits)
- The matrix map: a powerful tool for nonprofit sustainability (Nonprofit Quarterly)
- The Nonprofit Business Plan: A Leader's Guide to Creating a Successful Business Model (David La Piana, Heather Gowdy, Lester Olmstead-Rose, and Brent Copen, Turner Publishing)
- Nonprofit Earned Income: Critical Business Model Considerations for Nonprofits (Nonprofit Financial Commons)
- Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability (Jan Masaoka, Steve Zimmerman, and Jeanne Bell)
Disclaimer: Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is neither intended to be nor should be construed as legal, accounting, tax, investment, or financial advice. Please consult a professional (attorney, accountant, tax advisor) for the latest and most accurate information. The National Council of Nonprofits makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein.
Nonprofit Business Plans
Did you know each of these plans was created in LivePlan? Learn More
Co-op Nonprofit Business Plans
- Nonprofit Recording Co-op Business Plan
Food & Housing Nonprofit Business Plans
- Catering Business Plan
- Emergency Shelters Business Plan
- Nonprofit Food Bank Business Plan
- Nursing Home Business Plan
Growth & Education Nonprofit Business Plans
- Nonprofit Youth Services Business Plan
- School Fundraising Business Plan
- Youth Sports Nonprofit Business Plan
Policy & Legal Nonprofit Business Plans
- Government Services Business Plan
- Nonprofit Law Firm Business Plan
- Nonprofit Trade Association Business Plan
Technology Nonprofit Business Plans
- Energy Conservation Business Plan
- Technology Investment Business Plan
If you’re looking to develop a more modern business plan, we recommend you try LivePlan . It contains the same templates and information you see here, but with additional guidance to help you develop the perfect plan.
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The best nonprofit business plan template in 2023
If you’re looking to start a new charity but don’t know where to start, a nonprofit business plan template can help. There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the US. While it’s awesome that there are so many charitable orgs, unfortunately, many of them struggle to keep their doors open.
Like any other business, a nonprofit needs to prepare for the unexpected. Even without a global pandemic, strategic planning is crucial for a nonprofit to succeed.
In this article, we’ll look at why a business plan is important for nonprofit organizations and what details to include in your business plan. To get you started, our versatile nonprofit business plan template is ready for you to download to turn your nonprofit dreams into a reality.
Get the template
What is a nonprofit business plan template?
A nonprofit business plan template is not that different from a regular, profit-oriented business plan template. It can even focus on financial gain — as long as it specifies how to use that excess for the greater good.
A nonprofit business plan template includes fields that cover the foundational elements of a business plan, including:
- The overarching purpose of your nonprofit
- Its long and short-term goals
- An outline of how you’ll achieve these goals
The template also controls the general layout of the business plan, like recommended headings, sub-headings, and questions. But what’s the point? Let’s dive into the benefits a business plan template offers nonprofits.
Download Excel template
Why use a nonprofit business plan template?
To get your nonprofit business plans in motion, templates can:
If you’ve decided to start a nonprofit, you’re likely driven by passion and purpose. Although nonprofits are generally mission-driven, they’re still businesses. And that means you need to have a working business model. A template will give your ideas direction and encourage you to put your strategic thinking cap on.
Help you secure funding
One of the biggest reasons for writing a nonprofit business plan is to attract investment. After all, without enough funding , it’s nearly impossible to get your business off the ground. There’s simply no business without capital investment, and that’s even more true for nonprofits that rarely sell products.
Stakeholders and potential investors will need to assess the feasibility of your nonprofit business. You can encourage them to invest by presenting them with a well-written, well-thought-out business plan with all the necessary details — and a template lays the right foundation.
Facilitate clear messaging
One of the essential characteristics of any business plan — nonprofits included — is transparency around what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. A nebulous statement with grandiose aspirations but no practical plan won’t inspire confidence.
Instead, you should create a clear and concise purpose statement that sums up your goals and planned action steps. A good template will help you maintain a strong purpose statement and use clear messaging throughout.
Of course, there are different types of nonprofit plan templates you can use, depending on the kind of business plan you want to draw up.
What are some examples of a nonprofit business plan template?
From summary nonprofit plans to all encompassing strategies, check out a few sample business plan templates for different nonprofit use cases.
Summary nonprofit business plan template
New nonprofit ventures in the early stages of development can use this business plan template. It’s created to put out feelers to see if investors are interested in your idea. For example, you may want to start an animal shelter in your community, but aren’t sure if it’s a viable option due to a lack of funds. You’d use a summary business plan template to gauge interest in your nonprofit.
Full nonprofit business plan template
In this scenario, you have already laid the foundations for your nonprofit. You’re now at a point where you need financing to get your nonprofit off the ground.
This template is much longer than a summary and includes all the sections of a nonprofit business plan including the:
- Nonprofit description
- Needs analysis
- Marketing strategy
- Management team & board
- Human resource needs
It also typically includes a variety of documents that back up your market research and financial situation.
Operational nonprofit business plan template
This type of business plan template is extremely detail-oriented and outlines your nonprofit’s daily operations. It acts as an in-depth guide for who does what, how they should do it, and when they should do it.
An operational nonprofit business plan is written for your internal team rather than external parties like investors or board members.
Convinced to give a business plan template a go? Lucky for you, our team has created the perfect option for nonprofits.
monday.com’s nonprofit business plan template
At monday.com, we understand that starting a nonprofit business can feel overwhelming — scrambling to line up investors, arranging fundraising events, filing federal forms, and more. Because we want you and your nonprofit to succeed, we’ve created a customizable template to get you started. It’s right inside our Work OS , a digital platform that helps you effectively manage every aspect of your work — from budgets and high-level plans to individual to-do lists.
Here’s what you can do on our template:
Access all your documents from one central location
Besides a business plan, starting a nonprofit requires a lot of other documentation. Supporting documents include a cash flow statement or a general financial statement, resumes of founders, and letters of support.
monday.com’s Work OS lets you store all these essential documents in one centralized location. That means you don’t need to open several tabs or run multiple programs to view your information. On monday.com, you can quickly and easily access documents and share them with potential investors and donors. Security features also help you control access to any board or document, only letting invited people or employees view or edit them. By keeping everything in one place, you save time on tracking down rogue files or statements and can focus on what really matters, such as running your nonprofit.
Turn your business plan into action
With monday.com’s nonprofit business plan template, you can seamlessly transform your plan into actionable tasks. After all, it’s going to take more than some sound strategic planning to bring your nonprofit to life.
Based on your business plan, you have the power to create interactive vision boards, calendars, timelines, cards, charts, and more. Because delegation is key, assign tasks to any of your team members from your main board. You can even set up notification automations so that everyone stays up to date with their responsibilities. Plus, to make sure the team stays on track, you can use the Progress Tracking Column that shows you the percent to completion of tasks based on the different status columns of your board.
Keep your finger on the pulse
From budgets to customer satisfaction, you need to maintain a high-level overview of your nonprofit’s key metrics.
monday.com keeps you well-informed on the status of your nonprofit’s progress, all on one platform. With customizable dashboards — for example, a real-time overview of donations received and projects completed — and visually appealing views, you can make confident decisions on how to take your nonprofit business forward.
Now that you have the template, let’s cover each section and how to fill it out correctly.
Essential sections of a nonprofit business plan template
So what exactly goes into a nonprofit business plan? Let’s take a look at the different sections you’ll find in most templates.
This is a concise summary of your business at the beginning of your plan. It should be both inspired and to the point. The executive summary is typically two pages long and dedicates about two sentences to each section of the plan.
This section gives some background on your company and summarizes the goal of your business. At the same time, it should touch on other important factors like your action plan for attracting potential external stakeholders. You can think of an organization overview as a mission statement and company description rolled into one.
Products, programs, and services
Any business exists to provide products, programs, and services — perhaps with a focus on the latter two for nonprofits. Your business plan should outline what you are bringing to your community. This will influence your target market , potential investors, and marketing strategies.
An effective marketing strategy is the cornerstone of any successful business. Your marketing plan will identify your target audience and how you plan to reach them. It deals with pricing structures while also assessing customer engagement levels.
The operational plan describes the steps a company will take over a certain period. It focuses on the day-to-day aspects of the business, like what tasks need to be done and who is responsible for what. The operational section of a business plan works closely with strategic planning.
Even nonprofits face competition from other nonprofits with similar business profiles. A market analysis looks at the strengths and weaknesses of competing businesses and where you fit in. This section should include a strategy to overtake competitors in the market. There are many formats and templates you can use here, for example, a SWOT analysis .
Your financial plan should be a holistic image of your company’s financial status and financial goals. As well as your fundraising plan , make sure to include details like cash flow, investments, insurance, debt, and savings.
Before we wrap up, we’ll address some commonly asked questions about nonprofit business plan templates.
FAQs about nonprofit business plan templates
How do you write a business plan for a nonprofit.
The best way to write a nonprofit business plan is with a template so that you don’t leave anything out. Our template has all the sections ready for you to fill in, combined with features of a cutting-edge Work OS.
For some extra tips, take a look at our advice on how to write a business plan . We’ve detailed the various elements involved in business planning processes and how these should be structured.
How many pages should a nonprofit business plan be?
Business plans don’t have to be excessively long. Remember that concise communication is optimal. As a rule of thumb — and this will vary depending on the complexity and size of your business plan — a nonprofit business plan is typically between seven and thirty pages long.
What is a nonprofit business plan called?
A nonprofit business plan is called just that — a ‘nonprofit business plan.’ You may think that its nonprofit element makes it very different from a profit-oriented plan. But it is essentially the same type of document.
What is the best business structure for a nonprofit?
The consensus is that a corporation is the most appropriate and effective structure for a nonprofit business.
How do you start a nonprofit with no money?
Creating a business plan and approaching potential investors, aka donators, is the best way to start a nonprofit business if you don’t have the funds yourself.
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Write Your Nonprofit Business Plan in 9 Sections
Unfortunately, many founders or leaders skip creating one — which generally leads to fundraising frustrations and stalled services, among other problems.
Maybe they don’t know what a nonprofit business plan can do to help them.
Or perhaps it seems too daunting, and they don’t know where to start.
There’s also a common misconception out there that because your organization is labeled a “nonprofit” it doesn’t need to operate like a business. (That couldn’t be farther from the truth.)
Passion and enthusiasm can only get you so far. Without a guide or roadmap to get you where you want to go, you can spend a lot of time floundering.
After all, you can’t jump into your car and drive somewhere you’ve never been if you don’t have directions, can you?
So why do folks who are looking to start or grow a nonprofit not draft a business plan?
Why You Need a Nonprofit Business Plan
No matter where your nonprofit is in its growth or what you’re trying to accomplish, a plan will help you reach your goals faster than if you are trying to operate without one.
Your nonprofit business plan helps you figure out the direction for your nonprofit, the resources you need, and the shortest path to success.
For new nonprofits, it helps you see if you can actually gather the support that you hope you can. In short, you can determine before you begin if your idea for a nonprofit is feasible.
If your nonprofit is already up and running, a nonprofit business plan helps you decide if the funding and opportunities for growth exist for your new or young nonprofit.
Your organization doesn’t exist to make money. But a nonprofit business plan is necessary to attract major donors, foundations, Board members, and other potential partners.
You might need to apply for a business loan at some point, especially if you want to buy a building or set up a thrift store. Lenders will want to see your nonprofit business plan to get an idea of how well you’ve thought things through and to see what your revenue projections look like.
Regardless, your nonprofit needs a roadmap for the future so you can accomplish your goals and fulfill your mission.
So, let’s break it down and take a look at the pieces you’ll need to think through and include in your nonprofit’s business plan.
Getting Started With Your Nonprofit Business Plan
The most common question we get about business plans is “where do we start?”
I get it. It can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re not naturally a planner.
Essentially, you start with the basics — your mission, vision, and goals.
Your nonprofit’s business plan will then expand on those, going into detail about what you’ll do and what it will cost.
A good plan answers a number of who, what, when, where questions like these:
- What problem is your nonprofit trying to solve?
- What are the exact goals you are trying to achieve?
- How will you measure success?
- How much will it cost?
- What resources do you have and what resources will you need?
- Who can help you achieve your goals?
Your Nonprofit Business Plan not only answers these questions in a format that’s easy to read and understand, but explains your organization and its processes clearly and factually.
What Should You Include in a Nonprofit Business Plan?
Your Nonprofit’s Business Plan should include only relevant information, including these 9 elements:
1. Executive Summary. The Executive Summary is the first thing that any potential partner or supporter will read, and it introduces the mission and purpose of your nonprofit.
It summarizes the identifiable needs you are committed to filling and explains how your nonprofit will meet those needs.
Unlike for-profit businesses, you are not just selling your potential partners on the numbers and inviting them to make a profit.
You are writing a compelling story about how you are helping change the world for the better.
Because this section of your nonprofit business plan is a summary of the facts contained throughout the whole document, it is often written last.
You can customize this section of your business plan depending on your purpose in sending it out. For example, the Executive Summary might have a very different focus if you are trying to recruit an expert in your service sector to the Board versus applying for a small business loan to open a gift shop.
For instance, if your nonprofit is a 501(c)(3), you will list that in this section. (There are other types of nonprofit organizations such as fraternal beneficiary organizations, or horticulture, labor, and agricultural organizations that are structured as nonprofits as well…so be clear here.). Or maybe your nonprofit is actually an NGO based in another country.
In this section, talk about whether you have employees or are all-volunteer. Do you have (or will have) a facility? Paint a picture of your organizational structure so the reader can understand quickly what your nonprofit looks like from an operational point of view.
If yours is an established organization, you can discuss how your nonprofit was started and the milestones you have reached. Listing previous successes and accomplishments in this section can be convincing for potential partners and reassure them that you will use their funding efficiently.
If your nonprofit is just getting started, explain your vision and why you are creating your organization. Focus on the problems you see and the practical ways you intend to alleviate those problems.
3. Products, Programs, and Services. This section provides detailed descriptions and documentation of how you meet needs in your community.
This is where you describe the need and who benefits from your programs. Talk about how lives are changed because of the work your nonprofit does.
Go into some detail to describe the number of people or animals who need you, the number you serve or intend to serve, and the remaining gap who need service.
For example, if you run a homeless shelter, you should mention the number of people who are homeless on any given night in your area. Talk about the number of beds you have, the number of beds you are planning to add in the coming year, and exactly what services you provide in addition to shelter.
If your shelter offers wrap-around services or plays a key role in connecting those you serve to other vital services, talk about those, too. Do your beneficiaries have access to medical care once a month? Does your organization provide a meal? Do you have volunteer tutors who can help students who are homeless with their work? Note who carries out your programs and services and whether you use mostly volunteers or whether you have paid staff in place.
This section will convince potential partners that you are making a difference in a concrete way.
Also, talk about any other nonprofits who are addressing the same need and how your services are/will be different. Donors don’t like duplication of services, and getting grants will be tough if you can’t articulate how your approach is unique.
4. Marketing Plan. Your marketing plan should describe the specific target audiences you want to reach for both programs and fundraising, key messages you’ll use, and which methods or vehicles you’ll use to reach the right people.
Describe whether you mostly advertise and market to a local community or whether your organization is national or worldwide in scope.
This section should include specific marketing strategies and associated costs, such as:
- Print and online marketing
- Email campaigns
- Social media
- Building, maintaining, and marketing your website
- Marketing or cause-related partnerships
- Fundraising or outreach events
If your nonprofit is already established, let your reader know what your marketing plan has been in the past, what has worked, and how you plan to expand it.
What do you and your staff do every day to run programs and provide services? Be specific. How much does a single unit of service cost per person? Who delivers the service? Where and how?
If you have a five-year plan for expanding operations, include that as well. Outline your ideas to move into new areas, new facilities, or new markets.
Note any expanded services. If you are planning on growing or expanding your services what would that mean in terms of operations? For instance, if you run a food bank and you are actively planning to double the number of people you feed in the next year, how will that affect operations? Will you need more refrigerated space? More trucks? More staff or volunteers? Will you expand hours? Be ready to share in the Financial section how this growth will impact your budget, both in revenue and expenses.
If you haven’t spent time making long-term plans, this is a good time to sit down with Board members and staff and think about it in detail! Decide if you’ll start the program or secure funding first (there’s a big difference!).
This section will show potential partners that you are professional, serious, and ready to act with whatever funding they can provide.
6. Evaluation Plan. This can be a separate section, or evaluation methods can be added to various other sections.
Evaluation is critical to determine your effectiveness as a nonprofit — and it’s particularly important for grants. How can you tell if a program is providing the benefit that you are promising? Potential donors and grantors will want to know how you will make sure that funds are used to their highest potential and that you are flexible enough to change if need be.
You should also talk about methods in place to evaluate various aspects of your nonprofit to make sure you’re getting a good return on investment for the time, energy, and resources you put into each area of operations.
For instance, you should monitor your marketing strategies to see what’s working to reach new people. Make sure someone is noting which social media posts are catching on. You should have a data collection system that helps evaluate which fundraising techniques bring in new donors and which techniques help you retain donors or take them to the next level.
You need to explain exactly how you will determine whether or not your beneficiaries are succeeding. For instance, how many of the students you tutor graduate high school? What is your mechanism for follow-up?
You can’t just tell people your idea is working. You need to have the data to prove it.
7. Management and Organizational Charts. In this section, explain the hierarchy of your organization and your expertise for doing the work ahead of you.
Who does what and what expertise do they have for doing it? Potential partners will feel more comfortable to know that the Director of Services for your women’s shelter has a PhD and 10 years of experience in social work.
They will also feel more comfortable knowing that you have all your bases covered in management and staff. This is a good place to outline your future staffing and management needs, including any reliance on volunteers.
Start by developing revenue projections, including anticipated sources of funding from donations, grants, etc. Your projections can’t just be guesses — they need to be based on something specific, whether it’s how much you raised last year, how much a similar organization raised last year, or on an expert’s recommendations. So, include a summary of your fundraising plan here to show how money will be raised.
In addition to revenue projections, also include a breakdown of anticipated expenses. How much of your funds go directly to those you serve? How much goes to your employees’ salaries? How much funding goes to facilities payments or upkeep? You should be very detailed in this section.
Don’t forget things like legal and accounting services, insurance, website upkeep, internet, phone bills, and utilities. If your nonprofit’s money goes into it, include it here.
Include future cash flow statements, income sheets, and balance sheets. You should let your potential partners know how you distribute these funds amongst your various programs and services. This is where your accounting practices can make or break you!
Writing out a detailed financial plan can be very revealing to you as well as to donors and foundations. It may help you identify gaps in your funding and how you plan to deal with them. It’s well worth the effort to gather this information. Not only will it make potential partners more comfortable, it will give you clarity as well!
9. Appendix. The appendix is where you should include extra information that might make the business plan too lengthy or complicated to read through.
You can include your current fiscal year budget , a list of your Board members and their bios, and other relevant documents. You can include any information that you feel is important but perhaps too detailed to include in the main body of your nonprofit business plan.
Tips for Your Nonprofit Business Plan
Use technical jargon or acronyms your reader might not be familiar with.
Make the document unreadably long. Instead, use the appendix for very long or dense documents.
Use only text. Break up the sections for easy reading, and use graphs and charts where you can.
Get so passionate about the cause you forget to tell your reader the nuts and bolts of your nonprofit.
Make the document easy to read. If it’s printed, print on reasonably heavy paper with at least a 12-pt. font.
Use reasonable margins. You want your reader to be able to easily read each page.
Divide the sections clearly with headers and white space.
Use color, graphs, and charts to draw the eye and keep the reader moving through the document.
Have someone, or even several someones, read and edit your nonprofit business plan. (Silly grammar errors and typos are not going to impress your reader with your professionalism.)
Update your audience and keep them excited.
The Bottom Line
Writing a nonprofit business plan is not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s definitely worth your while and gets your ideas down on paper. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you break it into sections and start gathering information, you will find that your business plan can help you find direction and the means to help fulfill your mission.
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How to write a strong nonprofit mission statement
I need help writing my non profit business plan
The resources listed in this article will help. Is there a specific place where you’re stuck?
Thank you so much for this! Is there a good sample you could point me to look at?
You might try googling “sample nonprofit business plan” and the type of nonprofit you have so you can find one that’s applicable to your work.
This information was informative, detailed and to the point without being too wordy. Thank you for your advice, it helped me a lot.
What is the average total page count for a business plan
It depends on how much detail you get into. Somewhere between 15 and 20 pages should give you plenty of direction.
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Start » strategy, how to write a nonprofit business plan.
A nonprofit business plan ensures your organization’s fundraising and activities align with your core mission.
Every nonprofit needs a mission statement that demonstrates how the organization will support a social cause and provide a public benefit. A nonprofit business plan fleshes out this mission statement in greater detail. These plans include many of the same elements as a for-profit business plan, with a focus on fundraising, creating a board of directors, raising awareness, and staying compliant with IRS regulations. A nonprofit business plan can be instrumental in getting your organization off the ground successfully.
Start with your mission statement
The mission statement is foundational for your nonprofit organization. The IRS will review your mission statement in determining whether to grant you tax-exempt status. This statement also helps you recruit volunteers and staff, fundraise, and plan activities for the year.
[Read more: Writing a Mission Statement: A Step-by-Step Guide ]
Therefore, you should start your business plan with a clear mission statement in the executive summary. The executive summary can also cover, at a high level, the goals, vision, and unique strengths of your nonprofit organization. Keep this section brief, since you will be going into greater detail in later sections.
Identify a board of directors
Many business plans include a section identifying the people behind the operation: your key leaders, volunteers, and full-time employees. For nonprofits, it’s also important to identify your board of directors. The board of directors is ultimately responsible for hiring and managing the CEO of your nonprofit.
“Board members are the fiduciaries who steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission,” wrote the Council of Nonprofits.
As such, identify members of your board in your business plan to give potential donors confidence in the management of your nonprofit.
Be as realistic as possible about the impact you can make with the funding you hope to gain.
Describe your organization’s activities
In this section, provide more information about what your nonprofit does on a day-to-day basis. What products, training, education, or other services do you provide? What does your organization do to benefit the constituents identified in your mission statement? Here’s an example from the American Red Cross, courtesy of DonorBox :
“The American Red Cross carries out their mission to prevent and relieve suffering with five key services: disaster relief, supporting America’s military families, lifesaving blood, health and safety services, and international service.”
This section should be detailed and get into the operational weeds of how your business delivers on its mission statement. Explain the strategies your team will take to service clients, including outreach and marketing, inventory and equipment needs, a hiring plan, and other key elements.
Write a fundraising plan
This part is the most important element of your business plan. In addition to providing required financial statements (e.g., the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement), identify potential sources of funding for your nonprofit. These may include individual donors, corporate donors, grants, or in-kind support. If you are planning to host a fundraising event, put together a budget for that event and demonstrate the anticipated impact that event will have on your budget.
Create an impact plan
An impact plan ties everything together. It demonstrates how your fundraising and day-to-day activities will further your mission. For potential donors, it can make a very convincing case for why they should invest in your nonprofit.
“This section turns your purpose and motivation into concrete accomplishments your nonprofit wants to make and sets specific goals and objectives,” wrote DonorBox . “These define the real bottom line of your nonprofit, so they’re the key to unlocking support. Funders want to know for whom, in what way, and exactly how you’ll measure your impact.”
Be as realistic as possible about the impact you can make with the funding you hope to gain. Revisit your business plan as your organization grows to make sure the goals you’ve set both align with your mission and continue to be within reach.
[Read more: 8 Signs It's Time to Update Your Business Plan ]
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