The Nonprofit Business Plan: It “Ain’t No” Oxymoron

Ask ten different consultants about the need for, components of and process for developing a nonprofit business plan, and you’ll get ten different answers.

There are, after all, a number of “must-have” plans out there vying for the nonprofit leader’s attention:

  • Strategic Plans
  • Development Plans
  • Marketing Plans
  • Operating Plans
  • Evaluation Plans
  • Crisis Management Plans…

a ball dropped on waterIts no wonder so many organizations elect to skip over the planning and jump right into the “difference making”. Problem is, nonprofit management is a moving target. Leases expire, opportunities arise, funding is awarded (and withdrawn), client’s change etc.

Nonprofit leaders must expect the unexpected; and in those situations, the old adage is true, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Trial and error have their place in innovation, but when you are faced with making critical organizational decisions, there simply is no substitute for the value found in a well-defined, well-researched Business Plan.

Business Plan templates vary from the One Page Business Plan to the meticulously detailed 50-Plus Pagers, and everything in between.

Needless to say, it’s not the template that matters.

What matters most is that you take the time to:

  1. define your business model,
  2. understand your market, and
  3. develop a plan for the worst case scenario.

 The number of pages will vary based on the size and scope of your organization, generally speaking, less is more.  The main objective is to make the case.

For nonprofit startups, Business PLANning is essential. In fact, the planning process can often be as valuable as the PLAN itself because the process allows organizations to test (and modify) the feasibility of their ideas before actually launching.

Business PLANning can also be quite useful for established nonprofits; particularly when the organization is considering a change that will significantly deviate from its existing business model. This is essentially “startup mode” and how good organizations reinvent themselves as their environment changes.

So whether your organization is new or re-newing…remember that nonprofit and business are not oxymorons.

Nonprofits are corporations just like their for profit counterparts. In fact, as the authors of Forces for Good discovered, high impact nonprofits “harness market forces and see business as a powerful partner”.

Happy Planning!

If you would like assistance with developing a business plan to chart the course for your organization’s future, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

By | 2018-01-31T14:01:16-06:00 July 5th, 2013|Nonprofit, Online Advice, Strategy|Comments Off on The Nonprofit Business Plan: It “Ain’t No” Oxymoron