Business Plan for Nonprofits

Preparing Your Roadmap To Success

Our Roadmap For Social Entrepreneurs helps prepare entrepreneurs and managers of nonprofit organizations and projects. It is your action plan, designed for to you quickly develop knowledge, skills, and perspectives to support the application of traditional business management practices and concepts to nonprofit organizations and social cause efforts.

Most social entrepreneurs have five primary fundraising goals. They need funding for starting up, projects and programs, everyday operations, capital enhancements, and creating an endowment fund. Sources of funding for the social entrepreneur can come from a number of sources. When working on your business plan, think about which of these sources you will most likely target. The key sources are government agencies, private foundations, corporate foundations, family foundations, community foundations, social angels, and corporate budgets.

Like a detective, you will need to shift through all your great ideas and notes from your brainstorming sessions. Our Roadmap will help you create a business strategy, a business plan, a financing strategy, and help you focus using proven strategic and tactical approaches. We want to help you kick-start the planning and organizing process. Our Roadmap will help you start your business plan, complete requests for grants, prepare stakeholder presentations, create marketing sponsorship proposals, and even marketing materials like press releases.

When you are completed you should be able to answer the following questions:
– What is this project or program about? What is the problem that needs to be solved?
– It is a one time special event? Or a long-term project that spans a number of years?
– What is the community served? Who are the stakeholders?
– What is its mission and values statement?
– What are its goals and objectives? How will success be measured?
– What organizational structure is best for the nonprofit venture?
– Who will be responsible for managing it? Who is committed to it right now?
– What are the gaps in your leadership team? How will you fill them?
– How much money does it need and when? What about the other resources you need?
– What will your supporters and sponsors get in return for helping you?

We know that putting together information your plan and funding raising is a challenge. But be confident, we have helped thousands of entrepreneurs. Carefully go through our ten steps, review all the questions and prepare your answers. We can help you change the hearts, minds and behaviors of millions. No matter how ambitious your cause, our process will help you define goals and milestones, identify realistic ways to meet them, and ultimately make an impact on the health and well being of society.

Step 1: Perform Situation Analysis
– What’s the specific cause or issue you want to address?
– How do you define your cause, your issue, or the problem that needs to be solved?
– Who is at risk because of this problem?
– How big is this issue? Regional? Nationwide? Global?
– How was this issue discovered? How long has this issue been around?
– What kinds of challenges are there in addressing the problem? What are you going to do better?
– How big is the problem? Can you define the problem in dollars?
– Can you define the impact of the problem on society today?
– What about the long-term impact of the problem on society?
– Did you perform a Corporate Social Responsibility Audit at your workplace?
– What did you uncover? MORE

Step 2: Define Your Community
– How do you define your community?
– How big is the community? Who are ALL your stakeholders?
– Can you define your community broadly in ways that make sense for the sponsors, for the media, for the volunteers?
– Who, specifically are your clients, the beneficiaries of your services? How are they defined, selected? What kind of restrictions do you have? (age, income, geographic)
– How do define the demographics your of target audience (like donors, sponsors) for promotional purposes?
– Are you considering stakeholders outside of your immediate region?
– What type of social entrepreneurial activity is your organization? MORE

Step 3: Research and Analysis
– What is the best approach to solving the problem identified? Has it been clearly defined?
– Who else is solving this problem, consider who else is doing something similar?
– Is it best to set up a project at work? Will this need a full-time commitment from people?
– Is this a one-time, short-term project? Or is this a long-term, continuous project?
– Have you benchmarked, studied other programs, projects, organization that are similar to the one you propose? What are they doing really well? What can you do differently and better?
– How are they funded? How do they find sponsors? How do they operate?
– Have you explored, considered other models, or approaches?
– Why should someone support your project? Who are potential partners and alliances?
– Does your organization need to be classified as tax-exempt from the IRS? If yes, what type of classification?
– Will your organization need financial support in the form of grants, cooperate sponsorship, public fund raising?
– Have you researched potential sources of funding? What types are available for your organization?
– Why would your project fit with your potential partners and alliances?
– What are the details, what are the benefits from sponsorship and support?
– What are the expected outcomes for the other stakeholders involved?
– What kind of other qualitative research have you completed?

Step 4: Define Mission and Strategy
– What is the name of the project, the organization?
– What is the location of the organization?
– What are the main goals and objectives?
– What is the strategy of achieving these goals and objectives?
– What is the mission statement?
– What is the vision statement?
– How would you define the values?
– How would you define the culture?
– What services will be provided? What will be the benefits of your services/program?
– Where will the services be provided? How will they be provided?
– What are the key completion dates and deadlines?
– What are the giving policies? How do they differ with each sponsor/supporter?
– Have you created a Code of Conduct? (an outline or document that covers practical concerns, activities, and actions that are acceptable for your organization, and those that are not)
– How would you evaluate the success of your project? What are your performance metrics?
– What are the benefits from sponsorship and support?

Step 5: Focus Organization and Commitment
– How are you organized? What’s the history of the organization?
– How was it founded? By whom? Why?
– Is it incorporated? If not, should it be incorporated?
– What are the organization’s most important achievements to date?
– Does your organization have organizing documents, like Articles of Incorporation, and Bylaws?
– If an existing organization, how old is it? How has it changed? Do you have amendments to the original Articles of Incorporation, and Bylaws?
– How did the team come together? What are the responsibilities of each team member?
– Who will manage the organization and be the leader?
– Who will keep track of the records, the board notes, and the financials?
– Who will keep track of the communications?
– Who will create the timeline for the schedule of meetings?
– Who will set the objectives and set of accomplishments for each meeting?
– Have you performed a gap analysis for your team? What did you discover?
– When will you need them more members for your team? Who will be responsible for recruiting the other folks?
– Have you considered your external team of professional service advisors, consultants, and advisory board members?
– What are your expectations of your board members? What will they expect from you?
– Can you demonstrate commitment from the top down with your core leadership team?
– If a project at work, are you prepared to discuss how to involve front-line employees and volunteers from the bottom-up?
– Will you have any employees? If so, what will be your hiring, evaluation, and firing guidelines?
– Did your organization get an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS?
– What do people get for working with your project?
– Do you know who can help you facilitate the introductions that will connect to the partner(s) discussed in Step 3 above?

Step 6: Gather Critical Capital Resources
– What do you need in resources? What details can you provide about your budget?
– How much cash is needed? When is it needed? How will the funds be used?
– What are your cause-specific expenses? Consider inventory, supplies, direct labor, materials, equipment that you need to buy, rent, direct labor, printing, develop of the product or service, signage, T-shirts, food for a one day event, researching and writing studies and reports, special travel.
– What are your overhead specific expenses? Consider special fees, renting office space, phone lines, storing, shipping, packaging, other logistical needs like transportation.
– What are your organization specific expenses? Consider the costs for business plan development, business and legal fees, banking fees like check printing, opening a checking account, incorporation expenses, tax registration, licensing, certification.
– What are your marketing specific expenses? Consider particular marketing studies, special promotional and advertising needs like brochures, flyers, Web site development, creating press releases.
– What are your entrepreneurial specific expenses? You will need to determine and account for the in-kind hours from volunteers, employees, part-time workers, and your advisory board members and in-kind, on-loan resources.
– Who would be the best sponsors to help you? Consider your efforts in alliance building, to these resources and the responses of each sponsor to your request for resources.
– What is the term of sponsorship and level of participation for each sponsor? Just for the project/program/event? Do you expect it to be annual? Long-term?
– What are the costs for sponsors? Can you list and detail all costs sponsors would be expected to pay, sponsorship fees, value-in-kind, promotional fees, signage, literature, flyers, creative/production costs, equipment fees, merchandising?
– Can you discuss payment terms with your suppliers and schedule of needs?
– How can you use your long-term vision of philanthropy to select partners and forge partnerships with sponsors that will help you achieve that vision?
– Do you have any commitments from existing sponsors, strategic alliances, partnerships or sponsors? Do you have any commitments on the horizon?
– What are the deadlines for fundraising? Do you have an idea which sponsor commits what and when?
– Who will be responsible for management of all this ”relationship capital” for your organization?

Step 7: Create Launch Strategy
– What about your organization’s name, and brand development? Do you need to have them trademarked?
– What are the key-success-factors to your organization in terms of launching?
– What are the deadlines for getting launched? What is your timeline of activities, your crucial drop-dead dates, when things absolutely have to be completed?
– Briefly, how are you going to communicate to the world about your organization?
– How do you plan to coordinate your launch (or re-launch) with your sponsors and other stakeholders?
– Who will organize the communications and the launch strategy? What is their experience?
– Who is in charge of the preparation and development of your communication strategies? (how to go out and start talking to the world–media, press, and other communication, contacting potential sponsors, sources of funding, potential partners, and potential volunteers)
– Do you have marketing and communications materials that need to be updated?
– What do you need for your launch, in terms of marketing and communications materials? (newsletters, reports, brochures, magazines, books, press releases, business cards, stationary)
– What about getting a Web site launched?
– Who do you have on your team that can help you use the Internet and Web site?
– What Web sites are you benchmarking? Why? What can you learn from them?
– Who is going to be in charge of Web site design, development and management?
– What features and functions will you need for your Web site to get launched?
– What about content for your Web site and email newsletter management?
– What about updates to your Web site in the future? Who will be responsible?

Step 8: Define Management and Implementation
– Can you scope out and briefly write an implementation plan with key milestones?
– If this is a long-term project or permanent organization, what are the key talking points how this organization will be managed, using established business management practices? Have you considered board meetings, discussion of management practices, how the financials will be prepared and shared, and other regular activities and deliverables?
– If this is a one-time event, or limited project, are you prepared to discuss the name of the event, the program, the date(s), location(s)?
– Can you provide an itemized/detailed proposed schedule of the event?
– Can you discuss the event/program history and objectives?
– What about security measures? What about insurance for the event?
– Will you have special guests at your event? Who is in charge of inviting them?
– What about special speakers, representatives from the media?
– What about any special training for your volunteers? Who will be in charge of this?

Step 9: Discuss Promotion and Publicity
– Have you explored innovative ways to measure and to celebrate the impact of the work of your organization, your program, your project? (for example, projected attendance and reach of event to cities, states, regions, etc.)
– Corporate sponsors most often want publicity for their work with nonprofits. Have you considered how to include items such as radio/TV/newspaper exposure, signage, tickets, access to special events, hospitality opportunities, access to mailing lists, public relations efforts, personal appearances and anything else potential sponsors would receive?
– What are the talking points of your press releases?
– Do have an outline for your press releases?
– What are the important dates for your press releases?
– Will you be able to have your press releases prepared in advance?
– Who is responsible for creating your media contact lists? Who will be in touch with the media?
– Have you considered working with a consultant that can help assist you in developing press materials communications strategies, establishing relationships with media and the like?
– How will your Web site support and enhance your Promotions and Publicity?
– Have you considered additional business development/marketing opportunities for sponsors?

Step 10: Prepare Follow Up and Continued Support
– How will you meet with your stakeholders, measure what you accomplished, learn what you did well, debrief your team, and share results with your supporters and volunteers? When?
– How do you plan to evaluate your efforts? How will you track and monitor performance?
– Who will be responsible for performing the “gap analysis” with your mission statement, your goals and objectives and accomplishments?
– How will you know what you did correctly? What you did incorrectly? How will you know what to do next? What are the resources required?
– What are your practices for the preparation of reports to sponsors and other key stakeholders?
– How do you propose to communicate and congratulate the three levels of your stakeholders and share the results? (first level is the internal leadership team, second level is with the volunteers, third level with the sponsors)
– Have you explored creative and genuine ways to say “Thank You!” to each level of stakeholder? (personal visit, phone call, follow-up letter, ”thank you” luncheon, dinner, ”thank you” and recognition in newsletters, on Web site, alerting the media for individual excellence etc.)

One Dozen Keys to Succes Launching Your Nonprofit

  1. Focus on and attack single, simple, doable causes—don’t try to change the world in one day
  2. Use a detailed planning process, like our Roadmap here, and start early
  3. Take advantage of what has been successful before
  4. Set project goals with community aspirations and needs
  5. Complete well devised research, benchmarking, and modeling
  6. Assemble a leadership team that is “committed to the commitment!”
  7. Pretest your promotional messages and publicity materials
  8. Be creative, prepare a balanced mix of media, Web site, and face-to-face opportunities
  9. Implement well!
  10. Prepare in advance effective methodologies for evaluation
  11. Follow up your stakeholders—share the good, the bad, and your gratitude!
  12. Know when you need help and get help when you can.