Strategic and Business Planning for Nonprofits

Strategic planning for nonprofits

The “new normal” for strategic planning engages the staff and board in defining strategy, committing to measurable goals, approving strategic objectives as well as practical and realistic implementation plans, and on an ongoing basis revisiting the strategies as the organization's internal and external environment changes. For information and assistance with strategic planning, contact your state association of nonprofits.

Why should nonprofit organizations plan? (BoardSource)

At the start-up phase and periodically during the ongoing life-cycle of a nonprofit, boards and staff may want to engage in “business planning” as an exercise to analyzes the anticipated financial support needed to fulfill its strategic  plan and remain sustainable.

Basic information on business plans for nonprofits

Nonprofits with a business plan that anticipates potential fluctuations in revenue are generally better able to weather the storms of economic upheaval. The following business planning resources offer strategies nonprofits can use to reduce their susceptibility to the negative impact of economic downturns.

Additionally, some nonprofit business plans address risk management (What if the planned activities fail or the environment changes dramatically? What is your Plan B?)

Business Continuity Planning

Are you ready for the sudden loss of revenues or your nonprofit’s inability to conduct programs because of a weather disaster or other unexpected reason?

  • Learn the basics of Business Continuity Planning with this on-line tutorial from the Nonprofit Risk Management Center.
  • TechSoup has a great Disaster Planning and Recovery Toolkit on its website with a special focus on technology (think about life without computers!)
  • If worse becomes worst, the Nonprofit Risk Management Center offers this Check-List for Winding Down.
  • Operating reserves: Where do they come from? How much is needed? The Nonprofits Assistance Fund offers a great primer on operating reserves.
  • Operating Reserves Policy Toolkit - The National Center for Charitable Statistics, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, and United Way Worldwide offer this toolkit to help nonprofit boards first understand operating reserves, and secondly, craft appropriate written policies about operating reserves for their organizations.