Nonprofit Business Plan Template & Guide [Updated 2021]

Written by Dave Lavinsky

Nonprofit Business Plan Template

A nonprofit business plan is essential to start and grow your nonprofit organization. It helps organizations plan and execute on opportunities. Your plan will include a number of sections such as an executive summary, organizational overview, industry analysis and more.

Growthink’s nonprofit business plan template below is the result of 20+ years of research into the types of business plans that help nonprofit organizations (NPOs) to attract funding and achieve their goals.

Follow the links to each section of our nonprofit business plan template:

Nonprofit Organization Planning Resources & FAQs

Below are answers to the most common questions asked by nonprofits:

Yes. If you’d like to quickly and easily complete your non-profit business plan, download our non-profit business plan template and complete your business plan and financial model in hours.

A non profit business plan describes your organization as it currently exists (which could be just an idea if you are a startup) and presents a road map for the next three to five years. It lays out your goals, challenges, and plans for meeting your goals. It is a living document that should be updated frequently. It is particularly important to create/update your business plan annually to make sure your nonprofit remains on track towards successfully fulfilling its mission.

A business plan serves many purposes. Most importantly, it forces you to think through and perfect your nonprofit’s strategy, it provides a roadmap to follow to grow your nonprofit, and it provides financial and other information major donors need to know before they invest in your organization.

There are several types of non profit organizations. These are categorized by section 500(c) by the IRS for tax exempt purposes. Listed below, are some of the frequently filed sections:

501(c)(1)
Corporations formed under Act of Congress. An example is Federal Credit Unions.

501(c)(2)
Holding corporations for tax exempt organizations. This group holds title to the property for the exempt group.

501(c)(3)
This is the most popular type of NPO. Examples include educational, literary, charitable, religious, public safety, international and national amateur sports competitions, organizations committed to the prevention of cruelty towards animals or children, etc. Organizations that fall into this category are either a private foundation or a public charity. Examples include Getty Foundation, Red Cross, Easter Seals, etc.

501(c)(4)
Examples include social welfare groups, civil leagues, employee associations, etc. This category promotes charity, community welfare and recreational/educational goals.

501(c)(5)
Horticultural, labor and agricultural organizations get classified under this section. These organizations are instructive or educational and work to improve products, working conditions and efficiency.

501(c)(6)
Examples include real estate boards, business leagues, etc. They work to ameliorate business conditions.

501(c)(7)
Recreation and social clubs that promote pleasure and activities fall into this category.

501(c)(8)
Fraternal beneficiary associations and societies belong to this section.

501(c)(9)
Voluntary Employees’ beneficiary associations which provide benefits, accidents and life payments to members are a part of this section.

The primary funding sources for nonprofit organizations are donors, grants and bank loans. Donors are individuals that provide capital to start and grow your nonprofit. Major donors, as the name imply, write large checks and are often instrumental in launching nonprofits. Grants are given by organizations and others to achieve specific goals and often nonprofits qualify for them. Bank loans, particularly for asset purchases like buildings and equipment, are also typically used by nonprofits.

Business planning is typically done when you start your nonprofit. Your initial business plan hopes to forecast future results and give you the best possible chance for success. Once nonprofits have launched and are operating, many of the unknowns and assumptions are answered and strategic planning is used to help grow the organization. Both business planning and strategic planning are similar processes.

To most quickly write a nonprofit business plan, start with a template that lays out the sections to complete. Answer the questions provided in the template and discuss them with your co-founders if applicable. A template financial model will help you more easily complete your financial forecasts.

Nonprofit plans should include the following information: Executive Summary, Organization Overview, Products, Programs, and Services, Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Marketing Plan, Operations Plan, Management Team/Organizational Structure, Financial Plan and Appendix.

The key steps to starting a nonprofit are to choose the name of your organization, write your business plan, incorporate your organization, apply for your IRS and state tax exemptions and get any required licenses and permits you need to operate.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are approximately 1.54 million nonprofits registered in the United States (data pulled from registrations with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)).

Yes, both belong in your plan.

Include your action plan in the operations plan section. Your fundraising plan goes in your financial plan section. Here you will discuss how much money you must raise and from whom you plan to solicit these funds.

Your mission statement is extremely important as it lays the foundation for and presents the vision of your nonprofit. You should clearly detail your mission statement in both the executive summary and organizational overview of your nonprofit plan.

Your financial projections must include an Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement. These statements show how much money your organization will bring in from donors and customers/clients and how much your organization will spend.

The key purpose of your financial projections is to ensure you have enough money to keep your organization operating.

Nonprofits function like for-profit businesses in that they often have employees who receive salaries. As such, as the owner, founder and/or CEO of a nonprofit organization, you can give yourself a salary. Many nonprofit CEOs, particularly those running large health, finance and educational organizations earn millions of dollars each year.

How much does it cost to start a nonprofit business?

Nonprofits must complete Form 1023 with the IRS in order to get exemption status. The filing fee for this form is $600. If neither actual nor projected annual income for the organization exceeds $50,000, you can file form Form 1023-EZ which costs just $275.

In addition to the filing fee, there are other costs associated with starting a nonprofit organization based on the type of organization you are developing (for example, if you require buildings and equipment).

Helpful Video Tips for Nonprofit Business Plans

 

Below are tips to creating select sections of your nonprofit business plan:

Writing the Management Team Section of Your Nonprofit Business Plan


Writing the Operations Section of your Nonprofit Business Plan


Writing the Customer Analysis Section of Your Nonprofit Business Plan


Writing Your Nonprofit Business Plan’s Executive Summary

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