nonprofit business plan template

nonprofit business plan template

Creating a Successful Nonprofit Business Plan

1. Introduction

Although your organization may have the same mission and vision as the next one, you need a roadmap on how to get there. An action plan is often the basic framework for the strategic and operational plans. Remember, strategic focuses on how your efforts fulfill the mission while operational identifies the actual implementation of the strategic plan. This tool can also be effective when presenting your case to funders and coalition partners. In developing an action plan, it is useful to begin with the end in mind, and work backwards. By following the steps in this chapter, you can conduct a thorough needs assessment, outcome and program objectives eliciting the envisions of your program, and map out an action plan on the logic model. This will result in a strategy rooted with the clear understanding of what you are trying to change and how you will do it. The final area to consider is your sustainability. Even though your goals, thanks to you and your effective program, brought positive change in your community, there is always the potential of reverting back to the old ways. Thus, creating a cycle of dependency. Having a safety net that preserves the positive changes in society is essential for any organization to assure its hard work will not go to waste. This is basically insurance that there will be adequate resources for the survival of your organization and maintenance of the positive change that it has created. Being proactive in preparation for tough times and being reactive in times of crisis are both part of effective sustainability planning. With this preparation your organization will be able to weather any storm and continue working for positive change in your community.

2. Mission and Vision Statement

A mission statement is a formal summary of your aims and values and is one sentence long. The statement must convey the general purpose of your organization and be the driving force behind your activities. Increase public awareness about the need for volunteer involvement in community service. This is a strong mission statement as it explains exactly what is to be done (increasing public awareness) and why. It also defines the strategy to be utilized to accomplish the tasks. Using these steps “To provide a better environment for our seniors. Our agency will work to accomplish our mission by providing advocacy, direct services, and volunteer efforts in the following focus areas.” The mission is followed by a list of goals. This is also acceptable but the mission alone is sufficient enough to guide the agency in creating tasks for completion of the mission. A mission statement is necessary for any organization looking to secure funds from private foundation sources. These sources are allocating funds to specific areas of interest and a mission statement can ensure them that their money will be going to a cause they support. Private funding is usually the initial startup money for small organizations and is the foundation for public funding through United Way, and local and federal government monies. These statements can be utilized for promotion and marketing of your organization. With a strong and precise statement, it is possible to attract media resources to promote your cause at no cost.

3. Organizational Structure and Management

There are typically four structures that can be considered which include functional, matrix, divisional, and coordination. Functional structures group and manage staff according to their expertise in a particular area, i.e. program, research, policy, and advocacy. This structure is very useful for smaller organizations and is also the type of structure being utilized by organizations of any size to manage a single project or program. Matrix structures overlay two structures on one staff where a staff member working in the policy area may also work in the program area. This staff member would have two managers to answer to and this type of structure can often leave staff feeling there is a lack of accountability. Divisional structures group and manage staff according to the area they are working in, i.e. health care, mental health, policy; this structure is often used if the organization is looking to move into competition with other organizations. Coordination structures are largely focused on the most effective way to deliver the mission and minimize costs to the organization in overhead and staff time, thus these structures are the most flexible and changing and largely focus on the mission of the organization. An organization may develop, implement, and maintain the best structure that fits the needs at a particular point in time but may need to change structures in order to relocate.

It is important when creating a successful nonprofit organizational structure that the management team is a good fit and is able to serve the best interest of the organization. When considering which type of organizational structure would best suit the organization, it’s important to factor in the mission of the organization, the size of the staff, the geographic location of the staff, and the types of programs provided. In considering these factors, the management team can decide if a particular structure will help or hinder the organization in fulfilling its mission. The best structure will help the organization effectively deliver on its mission while enduring the ability to weather any changes in the external environment.

4. Fundraising and Financial Strategy

Developing a fund-raising program is one of the most daunting challenges a nonprofit organization will face. A well-articulated fund-raising plan will serve as a blueprint for efforts to raise money. In the absence of a plan, efforts to raise money will often be inefficient and unproductive. It is important for the non-profit to consider diversifying its funding sources. Overreliance on a single funding source may make an organization vulnerable to economic cycles or changes in the priorities of funding sources. It is rare that a single funding source will provide 100 percent of an organization’s funding needs. Often a funding mix will include all or some of the following sources: earned income or sales of goods and/or services, government funding, private grants from foundations or corporations, and individual donations. An organization must carefully assess the true costs and benefits of each funding alternative. For example, many organizations will seek government funding without a clear understanding of the long-term costs and the potential negative impact on mission fulfillment. A nonprofit may find it hard to reject a source of funding that only partially covers its costs. This is often the case with fees for services. Taking these funds may commit the organization to a long-term revenue strategy that is not truly in its best interests. Private grant funding may be the least risky alternative. However, the time and cost involved in grant seeking can be substantial and grant funding alone is not a strategy for long-term sustainability. Individual donations are often sought but the potential benefit is not always carefully weighed against the cost. This is frequently the case with special events or direct mail campaigns. An organization may also want to consider the utilization of money raised as a way to generate additional income. An example would be the purchase of an income-producing asset or endowment campaign. These decisions require an understanding and careful consideration of the implications for asset and financial management. Step one in the process of developing and implementing a fund raising strategy is for the organization to create clear goals for the amount of money to be raised and the time frame for raising it. With goals clearly defined, the organization can then think strategically about the planning and management of a fund-raising initiative. A useful tool for systematic planning is a fund-raising matrix. This could be a chart that identifies fundraising methods and/or funding sources, what is to be done, who is to do it, and when it is to be done. As with any planning process, assignment of responsibility and accountability is essential. The plan should be periodically monitored and evaluated in order to make necessary adjustments.

5. Marketing and Outreach Plan

Essentially, a nonprofit has to persuade the public to make the world a better place. Initial marketing efforts will focus on the first two stages of the AIDAS (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, Support) model. Outreach will also play a large role in finding a sustaining and satisfying image in the community. In the beginning, this will hopefully brand the organization as one that is wanting to “change the world” by striving to accomplish unrealistic goals. This image will be used to spark interest and create desire for potential supporters to research and obtain more information about the organization’s goals and current efforts. These potential supporters are the ones willing to take action, thus the basic theory is targeting the unrealistic idealists will lead to people wanting to act to help the organization. At this point in time, it is crucial to the success of the nonprofit that strategy is changed towards a soft sell, giving these supporters a rewarding experience through the action will more likely gain commitment and in the end generate funds and volunteers. Since the beginning, the belief has been strong that we must practice what we preach. As the organization takes action to make a positive change in the world, it should continually monitor the public’s higher wants and needs. As a result, the marketing efforts and image must evolve synchronously with the changes in society and the organization. This is crucial when considering the changes in generations for various cultures, so assessing the environment is necessary in order to not become dormant. In ideal situations, monitoring should prevent the need to do periodic hard sells to generate funds and volunteers. Instead, current efforts should maintain the desire of the supporters and volunteers resulting in actions to give support to the organization.

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