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How to Draft a Nonprofit Business Plan Template + Free Sample Templates

How to Draft a Nonprofit Business Plan Template + Free Sample Templates

If you're looking to start a nonprofit business and need to draft a business plan, using a non profit (non-profit) business plan template can really speed up the time it takes in creating one rather than doing it from scratch. Just like any startup business, clearly planning out your 501c3 nonprofit from the beginning is not only required for exempt tax status, it demonstrates to your investors, managers and the public alike that you have a well thought out organizational mission and financial plan that is realistic and obtainable. This counts later when you begin looking to investors, donors and engaging in fundraising and marketing campaigns to raise money and awareness for your organization's goals.

What Is a Nonprofit Business Plan?

A nonprofit business plan is a guide that lays out everything about the organization and its finances as well as how the organization is to be run, helping it outline its mission, goals, strategies, and operations. Your business plan needs to be broken down into sections so each part of the plan is clear and concise. To start with, you can just begin writing a one-page business plan with a few sentences under each and build it all out from there. 

The headings of your business plans should include the basics like an Executive Summary, Organization Overview, Products, Programs, and Services, Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Nonprofit Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Management Team/Organizational Structure, Financial Plan and Appendix to begin with. Of course you can adjust these if your specific nonprofit has other attributes or even cut off one or two if you feel they really don't need to be included.

Why Should I Use a Business Plan Template for My Nonprofit?

One reason that a nonprofit business plan template can be so useful is many of the people that start and even manage nonprofits aren't always business orientated people. More often they are individuals who have a passion to help a specific cause and when it comes to the business side of things or business planning, using templates can ensure your writing a complete business plan with all the sections adequately covered and nothing important is left out.

This will help with stakeholders and potential investors as they will want to know the financial feasibility of your organization both in the short and long term. Without a proper plan, most individuals will feel too apprehensive that you haven't planned well enough, and you'll find them hesitant in funding your mission.

In addition, one of the most important parts of setting up a nonprofit is getting nonprofit tax exempt status from the IRS. After all, this exempt status is what makes a nonprofit a ‘non-profit business’. When you submit your application to the government, you will not be required to submit your business plan, but much of the information on a well thought out plan will also be the same information you'll need for your application to the government. A well laid out fill in the blank nonprofit business plan can make sure you have covered all the basis and will make the filing for your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status much easier, and it will also help in maintaining your tax-exempt status in the future.

What Are Some Examples of a Nonprofit Business Plan Template?

There are a few different types of nonprofit business plan templates that can vary in structure and content depending on the organization's specific needs and goals. Here are some examples along with reasons why you might use them and a sample for what purposes:

  1. Traditional Nonprofit Template:

Structure: This template follows a conventional nonprofit business plan structure with sections such as Executive Summary, Mission/Vision, Organizational Description, Needs Assessment, Programs/Services, Fundraising, Evaluation, and Appendices.

Use: Use this template if you want a comprehensive and detailed plan that covers all essential aspects of your nonprofit's operations. It's suitable for presenting to potential donors, grantors, and board members. It is also the plan we will be going over in detail below

  1. One-Page Business Nonprofit Plan Template:

Structure: This condensed template aims to summarize key information on a single page, focusing on the most critical elements of your nonprofit's mission, goals, programs, and financial strategy.

Use: Ideal for a quick overview or as a starting point to flesh out your nonprofit's essence. It can be useful for getting an overview and understanding the different elements of a nonprofit business plan. From this one-page document, you should work to expand each section until you have a worthy full fledged plan.

  1. Lean Nonprofit Business Plan Model Canvas:

Structure: This nonprofit template is based on the Business Model Canvas, which consists of nine building blocks: Key Partners, Key Activities, Key Resources, Value Proposition, Customer Segments, Customer Relationships, Marketing Channels, Cost Structure, and Revenue Streams.

Use: Use this template for a more visual and strategic approach to planning and marketing. It encourages a deep understanding of how your nonprofit creates, delivers, and captures value. It's particularly helpful for startups and those seeking innovative approaches.

  1. Strategic Planning Template Nonprofit:

Structure: This template focuses on strategy and includes plan sections such as SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), Goals and Objectives, Strategies and Tactics, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and an Implementation Plan.

Use: If your nonprofit is in a phase of strategic planning, use this template to outline your strategic priorities, actions, and the metrics you'll use to track progress. You can also use this plan business template to better clarify our number 7 section, Evaluation and Impact Measurement by creating an in-depth strategy using the SWOT method.

  1. Fundraising or Grant Proposal for Nonprofit Business Template:

Structure: Tailored specifically for grant applications and financial efforts, this template emphasizes sections like Problem Statement, Solution (Your Program), Budget, Evaluation, and Sustainability.

Use: Ideal for organizations specifically seeking funding. Use this template to create a compelling case for financial support from grantors, donors, or foundations, or to expand and drill down on Section 6, Fundraising and Revenue Plan.

  1. Social Enterprise Business Plan Template:

Structure: This template was created for those charities engaging in social enterprises or revenue-generating activities in addition to their other charitable work. This template includes sections for a Business Model, Market Analysis, Revenue Streams, Marketing and Financial Projections in a for-profit context.

Use: If your nonprofit combines mission-driven work with revenue generation, this nonprofit business plan outline should be used so you can write about both your non-profit organization and for-profit sides of your charity.

When selecting a nonprofit business plan template, consider your organization's specific needs, goals, and the audience you'll be presenting to. A printable nonprofit business plan template can provide a framework that’ll make it a lot easier and faster to organize your thoughts and communicate your nonprofit's mission and strategies effectively. And you’re free to use and customize our fill in the blank nonprofit business plan any way you choose to reflect your unique mission and vision.

Free Nonprofit Business Plan Templates and Sample

If you decide to use our nonprofit business plan template free download, you can follow along as we will cover each section of our templates so you can have an entire business plan as soon as possible. We'll explain what each of the sections in the planning template are, and what information is necessary for each one. We'll also give some tips and tricks to make your nonprofit business plan stand out and maybe even help your nonprofit business reach its goals sooner.

Our Nonprofit Business Plan Sections

1. Executive summary

Think of your Executive Summary as a sort of introduction and table of contents all combined. A complete Executive Summary will include a brief introduction to your organization and highlight the nonprofits unique strengths, and mention any major achievements or milestones it has reached thus far. After that, you should include all the sections that are included in the plan and a few sentences containing a condensed narrative of the key points in each of them. This saves people time if they want to get the gist of your charity but don't want to read through an entire thirty page plan to get an overview.

This section is also the first impression readers get of your nonprofit, so you should really put some thought and effort into writing a good one and making sure it's formatting is laid out correctly. It should convey your passion, competence, and the significance of your mission. Make it compelling and engaging to capture the reader's attention as you will probably be using this plan to entice investors, donors and board members during your initial start up phase.

Pro Tip: Although this comes at the beginning of your nonprofit business plan, you should write it last as you’ll be summarizing each of the sections here, so they need to be completed before writing this section.

2. Mission and Vision Statement

The best written Mission or Vision Statement always answers these two questions, "Why does this organization exist?" and "What will we do to solve that problem?"

This statement should be short and concise, but it needs to be impactful as it is an important tool to create passion and zeal in yourself, employees an volunteers and your donors or potential donors. It is what will guide all your future decisions when it comes time to expand, add or even eliminate different programs or charitable work you're doing. With a great mission statement, all anyone in your organization should need to ask is, will doing this fulfill our mission or does it dilute it.

That means you want your statement to address specific problem that exist in the world or your community that you want to solve, as well as explaining exactly how your nonprofit will go about ending or diminishing the problem both in the short term and as a long term project.

Try to be a specific as possible without being too broad or vague. It’s one thing to say “We will end animal suffering,” and quite another to say, “we will feed, neuter and spay all the animals we can find in our town and help place them for adoption.”

Make the core purpose stand out in a way that inspires the readers to want to get involved. It should convey a sense of purpose and urgency. Consider how your mission benefits all stakeholders, including the target population or community you serve, donors, volunteers, and staff.

3. Organizational Description

This section of your non profit organization template will explain and outline your nonprofit's governance structure, including the roles and responsibilities of the board of directors and all key staff whether they’re paid employees of volunteers. It should highlight any special expertise your people have and demonstrate the dedication of your leadership. It helps to really break down each person's role and responsibilities so that everyone is clear on who is responsible for what duties, and what those specific duties are. If done well, this should also be used as an internal document and given to anyone that is involved in working inside your charity.

Pro Tip: Look to fill your board of directors with people who can not only help manage and oversee your charity, but also play key roles in bringing donors on board, or people with connections that can help further grow your organization. Often times people that accept board positions at nonprofits have friends who are alike in their philanthropic pursuits, so use you members as much as possible and think of the larger overall picture of your mission and its goals.

4. Needs Assessment

This is the section of the business plan where you prove your nonprofit is a welcome necessity and is indeed filling a necessary service to your community. You should try to add research and hard data such as graphs, facts and figures that clearly demonstrate the need for your charity. Going with the above animals example, it would be helpful to include data on how many street dogs and cats there are in your city, and how many go hungry or are euthanized each year. Or data concerning how overpopulated the animal clinics are and how no one is looking to rescue or assist feral pets. Demonstrate how your specific cause is not being addressed properly and how your organization can fill this gap.

The more passionate and compelling you can be in explaining the problem in your business plan, the more people will want to join your charity and help you solve your cause's problems. Include real-life stories when possible and any community involvement that you've already started rounding up. This can help your mission become more relatable and create the empathy and connection your nonprofit has with the people of your community.

5. Program or Service Description

The Program or Service Description section of your business plan is where you discuss the how of your nonprofit’s activities, or exactly what your charity does using simple and clear language. Here you need to explain the specific activities your programs or services entail. Or in other words, what actions or steps will you take to alleviate the specific problem your nonprofit is set up to alleviate or solve. You should also include who exactly will benefit from your work and how it impacts the community in a positive was as a whole.

By giving as much detail on your programs as possible, its demonstrates your expertise on the topic and also how passionate you are about solving the problem. When at all possible, show off some instances where your strategies have had success, or if you’re totally new look to other relevant case studies that show success. Illustrate the real-world impact of your work or if necessary, the work of others. If you write this section well, individuals should see the work being done and the impact it will have.

6. Fundraising and Revenue Plan

Unlike for-profit organizations, your nonprofit business plan will need to demonstrate how you plan to fund your charity work both short and long term using a detailed financial budget outlining expected revenue and expenses. This can include applying for different grants, any financial or fundraising campaigns you have planned, or any other ways you plan to raise capital for your organization. It should also include financial expenses like rent, staff and other things you'd need to run the organization effectively. This should include financial statements, including financial  income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow projections. A clear financial plan demonstrates financial sustainability and shows that you have a financial roadmap for covering operational costs and expanding your impact over time.

Although most nonprofits rely on donations and other means of public funding for their financial health, a 501(c)(3) organization is allowed to ‘make a profit’ through the selling of goods or services. They just can’t distribute these funds to their members. But they can pay their staff with those funds. And since nonprofits can’t pay their staff with contributions or donations, they're often required to sell something in order to pay for full time staff that aren’t volunteers. Also, detail your donor engagement plan and any financial partnerships that will contribute to revenue.

7. Evaluation and Impact Measurement

This section highlights your commitment to transparency and accountability according to your mission statement. It shows that you're constantly learning and adapting to maximize your impact on your cause and community.

When you write out your template for nonprofit business plan, make sure your plans include clearly timed goals that can be tracked and measured as your organization grows. This can also help to find areas where you’ve missed goals or exceeded them and now need to be adjusted to keep up with your nonprofit’s changes.You'll also need to write out what will be needed in order to make the impact. This can include money, goods or services that will be required to efficiently perform the duties of your mission statement.

For example, you can have as a first year goal in your nonprofit business plan to neuter and spay 1000 pets within your community. That can further be broken down into a monthly goal so adjustments can be made sooner and shortcomings can be found and addressed. Then include who you'll be working with, and what is needed to complete the tasks at hand. And don’t forget to write how you collect and analyze data to measure the effectiveness of your programs.

8. Appendix

Your organization’s appendix section provides a wealth of supplementary information within your nonprofit business plan that can enhance the reader's understanding of your nonprofit's history, impact, and credibility. You can think of it as a catch all for any documents or other pertinent information that you feel should be included to give a well rounded aspect of your charity and its cause and doesn’t quite fit anywhere else, it goes here.

This is also the place for things like scientific research that backs up your mission statement or plans for the charity. And any charts, graphs, images and even links to videos can all be placed in this section to enhance the reader’s understanding of your mission.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to business planning and creating excellent nonprofit business plans, you don't need to pay a consulting business or lawyer to write you one. Our sample business plan for a non profit organization goes over everything step by step, from marketing to management, we have you covered.

In fact, once you're ready to launch your charity, check out all of PayBee's unique features that can catapult your charity to success faster than any other software or platform out there today. It only takes a second to sign up for our free demo here, and once you start playing around and discovering the power of our platform, you'll notice why we only work with charities and nonprofits and how every tool and feature we develop is customized specifically for the nonprofit sector.

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