Non-profits and business plans

I am so excited because I am sitting down with our local YWCA’s CEO on Friday to share a cup of coffee and talk about developing a “business plan”.

In my experience, there are a lot of misconceptions about the role of business plans within a non-profit context. Part of the problem is that all business plan resources are really written with for-profit companies in mind.

I also find that many non-profit folks think of business plans as something they really are not. Business plans are not strategic plans … nor are they resource development plans. It is a document that demonstrates how a project or a program is financially feasible from both a revenue and expense side.

When I was the Executive Director at Boys & Girls Club of Elgin, I ended up writing a business plan as an exercise prior to kicking off a $3 million capital campaign and building project. We thought that writing a business plan would be wise because local donors were feeling “burnt” by another non-profit who had run a capital campaign and expanded their facility. Unfortunately, the organization hadn’t written a business plan and was ill-prepared for all the added expenses associated with facility expansion. In the end, the organization ended up selling its newly expanded building. Ouch!

The intent of our business plan was to demonstrate to donors that we had thought through the expense side of the budget as well as the revenue side. The plan included five years of forecasting. It spelled out exactly how we planned on “sustaining” ourselves and being good stewards of their resources, money, and trust.

I want to thank my friend George Hahne at Marketplace Media Group and Yoneco Evans at Organized Chaos Afterschool Consulting for their help in identifying business plan resources that I will pass along to my local YWCA tomorrow.

If you are working on a project that requires a business plan, here are some resources you may want to check-out:

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
eanderson847@gmail.com
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