Most nonprofit owners didn’t know how or where to begin their nonprofit journey when they first started. They may have had a desire to positively change their community whether that was for educational, religious, charitable, or other reasons, but they weren’t sure what the next steps were. This is common and can put a lot of leaders at a standstill. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, we are here to help you take the next step from an idea to a nonprofit with a plan and goals. Yep, let’s talk about business plans.
The first thing to understand about nonprofits is that although they don’t collect profits, they still operate as a business. So, just as businesses need a business plan to project the “lay of the land” so to speak, short- and long-term goals, budgets, funding, etc., Nonprofits need a nonprofit business plan.
Creating your business plan is going to be the biggest battle on your journey to starting your nonprofit. Why? Because it’s the very first step in getting people (volunteers, investors, donors, board members, foundations, beneficiaries, etc.) on board with your plan— These groups want to know exactly what you want to accomplish and exactly how you plan to do it. Without a nonprofit business plan, you’re not going to achieve the reach and impact you want to make on your community and the public at large.
However, the good news is that once your nonprofit business plan is created, it literally becomes a road map of how you plan to achieve your goals, overcome obstacles and challenges, and clearly display your overall plan of attack. This will not only be a great tool for getting noticed but it will also show potential donors that you’re serious about getting your nonprofit off the ground. In short, this means that based on your nonprofit business plan, investors, and donors (and anyone else providing funding to your nonprofit) will be able to determine not only how valuable your nonprofit is but also how satisfied the people who will benefit from your efforts will be.
When writing your nonprofit business plan, you’re obviously going to have specific sections in it that lay out your plan for how to achieve the goals of your organization, such as your executive summary, operations, programs and services, marketing, budget, etc. However, when creating and developing your business plan, before you even think about the planning sections, there are some important considerations to keep in mind that are related to those business plan sections.
When it comes to investors, donors, potential board members, etc., it’s important that you keep in mind that some of them who read your business plan may not be as familiar or knowledgeable in your nonprofit area of interest or what you hope to accomplish with your nonprofit. With that, it’s important that you try to avoid jargon, acronyms, or any other type of language that can be confusing to those reading your nonprofit business plan.
Making your business plan format simple will make it easier for interested parties to read. Sticking to a 12-point font, either Arial or Times New Roman font style, and 1.5 (even double) spaced lines will all create the white space needed to not only make the data of the plan easily readable but also keep readers engaged, eliminating any type of confusion as to where their eyes should go.
As you can imagine, most nonprofit organizations are created based on less-than-ideal situations or circumstances in the local community. However, those unfortunate events or circumstances do not need to be the sole focus of your business plan. If you’re fighting hunger or homelessness, your business plan will definitely need to explain what is going on in those areas; you can even provide statistical data to support the need for your organization. However, your nonprofit business plan should mainly focus on how it’s the solution to the problem, highlighting what you plan to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish your goals and efforts!
A second set of eyes is always valuable. The fact that you worked so hard on your business plan to create the change needed in your community, the last thing you need is bad grammar or spelling to make interested parties question your seriousness, or worse, your credibility. This reason alone is why it’s so important to have an editor review your business plan to ensure it reads well and is professionally executed.
Creating your business plan is just as important as your passion for starting your nonprofit, can’t have one without the other. The who, what, when, where, and why of your nonprofit will all be included in your nonprofit business plan, and it’s crucial to the success of your nonprofit.
Understand that it’s okay to not know where or how to start when beginning such a journey. KM Clark Consulting Group offers professional nonprofit consulting services that will ensure you’re taking the right steps in the right direction toward success. To schedule your consultation, simply call (615) 225-8578 to get started. We’re here to help you be the change your community needs.