Does Your Nonprofit Need a Business Plan?

A business plan is like a road map. It can help you get where you’re going. It also can tell you that it may not be a good idea to begin the journey.

Whether it’s in the for-profit or nonprofit world, money is the fuel that provides the power to run an organization.

In the for-profit world, a business plan helps convince investors to either lend or commit their money to an organization. In the nonprofit world, a business plan can be used as a basis for grant proposals, fundraising projects, staffing and operations.

How do you get started? The first thing to consider is who will write your plan. It may be a good idea to find someone who can be totally objective and ask the cold, hard questions that need to be asked.

The following is a short list of questions a business plan should address:

  • What costs are involved in delivering services?
  • How many staff members will be needed, and what kind(s) of skills should they have?
  • From where will the services be provided?
  • What are overhead costs? This last question should take into account all costs, preferably over a three-year period.

Other questions to be answered include:  

  • How will costs be paid for?
  • Who will pay for services and how much?
  • What funding sources are available – grants, foundations, individual support?

There are three basic items that must be included in a business plan: Program, Operations and Financials. Each section should be expanded by including the following:

Program – Needs assessment, program description and community partners.

Operations – Organization, governance, staff start-up needs and/or ongoing operational needs, communications and outreach, program evaluation and problems and solutions.

Financials – Start-up income/expenses, ongoing expenses and projections

Davis and Hodgdon Associates CPAs has been assisting nonprofits, individuals and businesses with tax, accounting, and financial planning services in the Burlington Vermont Metro area for more than 20 years. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call 802.878.1963 or email [email protected].

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