Business Plan

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A business plan is typically focused on the actions and investment necessary to generate income from a specific program or service. A business plan includes information about an organization’s products, competitive environment and revenue assumptions.

A nonprofit organization should annually create a written operational plan which specifies implementation of its activities.

The operational plan should include goals and objectives that are set by the organization in order to positively benefit individuals and society.

The operational plan should clearly define specific program, financial, personnel and evaluation activities; delineate timelines; and assign specific responsibility for implementation.

The operational plan should be a useful management tool for evaluating activities and outcomes and should be tied to an approved budget.

Business Planning vs. Strategic Planning

A strategic plan describes goals, strategy, and actions. A business plan tests the proposition in the vision and based on research determines whether it is economically and operationally viable. A strategic plan is intentional compared to a business plan that is chocked with analysis. [1]

Bridgespan's 4 Elements of Business Planning

  1. Strategic clarity: Developing a concrete description of the impact for which the organization will hold itself accountable over some specified period of time (its intended impact) and the cause-and-effect logic explaining how its work will lead to that impact (its theory of change).
  2. Strategic priorities: Determining what specific actions and activities must take place to achieve the intended impact.
  3. Resource implications: Understanding the resources—financial, human, and organizational—needed to pursue these priorities and mapping out a plan to secure them.
  4. Performance measures: Establishing the quantitative and qualitative milestones.[2]

Business Planning Statements

Although every nonprofit has a mission statement that defines the organization's core purpose and work, many are unaware of its useful companion, the business model statement: a brief summary that spells out the organization's economic drivers. Like a mission statement, a business model statement acts as a touchstone: a reminder and a guide for the organization's focus and strategies. Read more at Blue Avocado

Resources & Sample Documents

Bridgespan: Sample Nonprofit Business Plans

Free Management Library: Nonprofit Business Planning

National Council of Nonprofits: Strategic and Business Planning for Nonprofits