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How do I write a business plan for a nonprofit organization?

Just as with a for-profit business venture, creating a business plan can help a nonprofit organization describe how it intends to implement its mission and achieve its set of goals and objectives.

The business planning process involves the following steps:

  • Researching the market, using a resource such as GuideStar, for the service the nonprofit plans to offer 
  • Investigating the resources needed to provide the service
  • Devising marketing and communication strategies for implementation  
  • Assessing risk
  • Determining ways to evaluate success - IssueLab Results is a place for foundations and nonprofits to share funded evaluations and to access the lessons of their peers and colleagues.
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In addition to enhancing overall organizational planning, a business plan also can be used to outline a specific project or venture for a nonprofit. To help diversify their revenue sources, many nonprofit organizations are exploring ways to earn income by developing their own business ventures. A classic example of a nonprofit business venture is Girl Scout cookies. Each year Girl Scout troops sell cookies, and the money earned is put toward Girl Scout programs. Providing goods or services for a fee can be an important way for a nonprofit to bring in revenue to supplement its fundraising activities.

Selected resources can help to learn more about creating an overall business plan for a nonprofit organization or specifically for an earned income venture.

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Still have questions related to starting a nonprofit, finding grants, or other fundraising and management queries? Chat with or email Foundation Center's expert librarians to get answers. Ask Us Now! >>

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