Get your nonprofit set up for success with a nonprofit business plan

How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan in 12 Steps (+ Free Template!)

The first step in starting a nonprofit is figuring out how to bring your vision into reality. If there’s any tool that can really help you hit the ground running, it’s a nonprofit business plan!

With a plan in place, you not only have a clear direction for growth, but you can also access valuable funding opportunities. 

Here, we’ll explore:

  • Why a business plan is so important
  • The components of a business plan
  • How to write a business plan for a nonprofit specifically

We also have a few great examples, as well as a free nonprofit business plan template.

Let’s get planning!

What Is a Nonprofit Business Plan?

A nonprofit business plan is the roadmap to your organization’s future. It lays out where your nonprofit currently stands in terms of organizational structure, finances and programs. Most importantly, it highlights your goals and how you aim to achieve them!

These goals should be reachable within the next 3-5 years—and flexible! Your nonprofit business plan is a living document, and should be regularly updated as priorities shift. The point of your plan is to remind you and your supporters what your organization is all about.

This document can be as short as one page if you’re just starting out, or much longer as your organization grows. As long as you have all the core elements of a business plan (which we’ll get into below!), you’re golden.

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Why Your Nonprofit Needs a Business Plan

While some people might argue that a nonprofit business plan isn’t strictly necessary, it’s well worth your time to make!

Here are 5 benefits of writing a business plan:

Secure funding and grants

Did you know that businesses with a plan are far more likely to get funding than those that don’t have a plan? It’s true!

When donors, investors, foundations, granting bodies and volunteers see you have a clear plan, they’re more likely to trust you with their time and money. Plus, as you achieve the goals laid out in your plan, that trust will only grow.

Solidify your mission

In order to sell your mission, you have to know what it is. That might sound simple, but when you have big dreams and ideas, it’s easy to get lost in all of the possibilities!

Writing your business plan pushes you to express your mission in the most straightforward way possible. As the years go on and new opportunities and ideas arise, your business plan will guide you back to your original mission.

From there, you can figure out if you’ve lost the plot—or if it’s time to change the mission itself!

Set goals and milestones 

The first step in achieving your goals is knowing exactly what they are. By highlighting your goals for the next 3-5 years—and naming their key milestones!—you can consistently check if you’re on track.

Nonprofit work is tough, and there will be points along the way where you wonder if you’re actually making a difference. With a nonprofit business plan in place, you can actually see how much you’ve achieved over the years.

Attract a board and volunteers

Getting volunteers and filling nonprofit board positions is essential to building out your organization’s team. Like we said before, a business plan builds trust and shows that your organization is legitimate. In fact, some boards of directors actually require a business plan in order for an organization to run!

An unfortunate truth is that many volunteers get taken advantage of . With a business plan in place, you can show that you’re coming from a place of professionalism.

Research and find opportunities

Writing a business plan requires some research!

Along the way, you’ll likely dig into information like:

  • Who your ideal donor might be
  • Where to find potential partners
  • What your competitors are up to
  • Which mentorships or grants are available for your organization
  • What is the best business model for a nonprofit like yours

With this information in place, not only will you have a better nonprofit business model created—you’ll also have a more stable organization!

Free Nonprofit Business Plan Template

If you’re feeling uncertain about building a business plan from scratch, we’ve got you covered!

Here is a quick and simple free nonprofit business plan template.

Basic Format and Parts of a Business Plan

Now that you know what a business plan can do for your organization, let’s talk about what it actually contains!

Here are some key elements of a business plan:

First of all, you want to make sure your business plan follows best practices for formatting. After all, it’ll be available to your team, donors, board of directors, funding bodies and more!

Your nonprofit business plan should:

  • Be consistent formatted
  • Have standard margins
  • Use a good sized font
  • Keep the document to-the-point
  • Include a page break after each section
  • Be proofread

Curious about what each section of the document should look like?

Here are the essential parts of a business plan:

  • Executive Summary: This is your nonprofit’s story—it’ll include your goals, as well as your mission, vision and values.
  • Products, programs and services: This is where you show exactly what it is you’re doing. Highlight the programs and services you offer, and how they will benefit your community.
  • Operations: This section describes your team, partnerships and all activities and requirements your day-to-day operations will include.
  • Marketing : Your marketing plan will cover your market, market analyses and specific plans for how you will carry out your business plan with the public.
  • Finances: This section covers an overview of your financial operations. It will include documents like your financial projections, fundraising plan , grants and more
  • Appendix: Any additional useful information will be attached here.

We’ll get into these sections in more detail below!

How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan in 12 Steps

Feeling ready to put your plan into action? Here’s how to write a business plan for a nonprofit in 12 simple steps!

1. Research the market

Take a look at what’s going on in your corner of the nonprofit sector. After all, you’re not the first organization to write a business plan!

  • How your competitors’ business plans are structured
  • What your beneficiaries are asking for
  • Potential partners you’d like to reach
  • Your target donors
  • What information granting bodies and loan providers require

All of this information will show you what parts of your business plan should be given extra care. Sending out donor surveys, contacting financial institutions and connecting with your beneficiaries are a few tips to get your research going.

If you’re just getting started out, this can help guide you in naming your nonprofit something relevant, eye-catching and unique!

2. Write to your audience

Your business plan will be available for a whole bunch of people, including:

  • Granting bodies
  • Loan providers
  • Prospective and current board members

Each of these audiences will be coming from different backgrounds, and looking at your business plan for different reasons. If you keep your nonprofit business plan accessible (minimal acronyms and industry jargon), you’ll be more likely to reach everyone.

If you’d like, it’s always possible to create a one page business plan AND a more detailed one. Then, you can provide the one that feels most useful to each audience!

3. Write your mission statement

Your mission statement defines how your organization aims to make a difference in the world. In one sentence, lay out why your nonprofit exists.

Here are a few examples of nonprofit mission statements:

  • Watts of Love is a global solar lighting nonprofit bringing people the power to raise themselves out of the darkness of poverty.
  • CoachArt creates a transformative arts and athletics community for families impacted by childhood chronic illness.
  • The Trevor Project fights to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning young people.

In a single sentence, each of these nonprofits defines exactly what it is their organization is doing, and who their work reaches. Offering this information at a glance is how you immediately hook your readers!

4. Describe your nonprofit 

Now that your mission is laid out, show a little bit more about who you are and how you aim to carry out your mission. Expanding your mission statement to include your vision and values is a great way to kick this off!

Use this section to highlight:

  • Your ideal vision for your community 
  • The guiding philosophy and values of your organization
  • The purpose you were established to achieve

Don’t worry too much about the specifics here—we’ll get into those below! This description is simply meant to demonstrate the heart of your organization.

5. Outline management and organization

When you put together your business plan, you’ll want to describe the structure of your organization in the Operations section.

This will include information like:

  • Team members (staff, board of directors , etc.)
  • The specific type of nonprofit you’re running

If you’re already established, make a section for how you got started! This includes your origin story, your growth and the impressive nonprofit talent you’ve brought on over the years.

6. Describe programs, products and services

This information will have its own section in your nonprofit business plan—and for good reason!

It gives readers vital information about how you operate, including:

  • The specifics of the work you do
  • How that work helps your beneficiaries
  • The resources that support the work (partnerships, facilities, volunteers, etc!)
  • If you have a membership base or a subscription business model

Above all, highlight what needs your nonprofit meets and how it plans to continue meeting those needs. Really get into the details here! Emphasize the work of each and every program, and if you’re already established, note the real impact you’ve made. 

Try including pictures and graphic design elements so people can feel your impact even if they’re simply skimming.

7. Create an Executive Summary

Your Executive Summary will sit right at the top of your business plan—in many ways, it’s the shining star of the document! This section serves as a concise and compelling telling of your nonprofit’s story. If it can capture your readers’ attention, they’re more likely to read through the rest of the plan.

Your Executive Summary should include:

  • Your mission, vision and values
  • Your goals (and their timelines!)
  • Your organization’s history
  • Your primary programs, products and services
  • Your financing plan
  • How you intend on using your funding

This section will summarize the basics of everything else in your plan. While it comes first part of your plan, we suggest writing it last! That way, you’ll already have the information on hand.

You can also edit your Executive Summary depending on your audience. For example, if you’re sending your nonprofit business plan to a loan provider, you can really focus on where the money will be going. If you’re trying to recruit a new board member, you might want to highlight goals and impact, instead.

8. Write a marketing plan

Having a nonprofit marketing plan is essential to making sure your mission reaches people—and that’s especially true for your business plan.

If your nonprofit is already up and running, detail the work you’re currently doing, as well as the specific results you’ve seen so far. If you’re new, you’ll mostly be working with projections—so make sure your data is sound!

No matter what, your Marketing Plan section should market research such as:

  • Beneficiary information
  • Information on your target audience/donor base
  • Information on your competitors
  • Names of potential partners

Data is your friend here! Make note of market analyses and tests you’ve run. Be sure to also document any outreach and campaigns you’ve previously done, as well as your outcomes.

Finally, be sure to list all past and future marketing strategies you’re planning for. This can include promotion, advertising, online marketing plans and more.

9. Create a logistics and operations plan

The Operations section of your business plan will take the organizational information you’ve gathered so far and expand the details! Highlight what the day-to-day will look like for your nonprofit, and how your funds and resources will make it possible.

Be sure to make note of:

  • The titles and responsibilities of your core team
  • The partners and suppliers you work with
  • Insurance you will need
  • Necessary licenses or certifications you’ll maintain
  • The cost of services and programs

This is the what and how of your business plan. Lean into those details, and show exactly how you’ll accomplish those goals you’ve been talking about!

10. Write an Impact Plan

Your Impact Plan is a deep dive into your organization’s goals. It grounds your dreams in reality, which brings both idealists and more practically-minded folks into your corner!

Where your Executive Summary lays out your ambitions on a broader level, this plan:

  • Clarifies your goals in detail
  • Highlights specific objectives and their timelines
  • Breaks down how you will achieve them
  • Shows how you will measure your success

Your Impact Plan will have quite a few goals in it, so be sure to emphasize which ones are the most impactful on your cause. After all, social impact is just as important as financial impact!

Speaking of…

11. Outline the Financial Plan

One of the main reasons people want to know how to write a nonprofit business plan is because of how essential it is to receiving funding. Loan providers, donors and granting bodies will want to see your numbers—and that’s where your Financial Plan comes in.

This plan should clearly lay out where your money is coming from and where it will go. If you’re just getting started, check out what similar nonprofits are doing in order to get realistic numbers. Even if you’re starting a nonprofit on a tight budget , every bit of financial information counts!

First, map out your projected (or actual) nonprofit revenue streams , such as:

  • Expected membership contributions
  • Significant donations
  • In-kind support
  • Fundraising plan

Then, do the same with your expenses:

  • Startup costs
  • Typical bills
  • Web hosting
  • Membership management software
  • Subscription
  • Costs of programs

If your nonprofit is already up and running, include your past accounting information. Otherwise, keep working with those grounded projections!

To make sure you have all of your information set, include documents like:

  • Income statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet

This information comes together to show that your nonprofit can stay above water financially. Highlighting that you can comfortably cover your operational costs is essential. Plus, building this plan might help your team find funding gaps or opportunities!

12. Include an Appendix

Your appendix is for any extra pieces of useful information for your readers.

This could be documents such as:

  • Academic papers about your beneficiaries
  • Publications on your nonprofit’s previous success
  • Board member bios
  • Organizational flow chart
  • Your IRS status letter

Make sure your additions contribute to your nonprofit’s story!

Examples of Business Plans for Nonprofits

Here are two great examples of nonprofit business plans. Notice how they’re different depending on the size of the organization!

Nonprofit Recording Co-op Business Plan

This sample nonprofit business plan shows what a basic plan could look like for a hobbyists’ co-op. If your nonprofit is on the smaller, more local side, this is a great reference!

What we like:

  • Details on running a basic membership model
  • Emphasis on what it means to specifically be a sustainable cooperative
  • A list of early milestones, such as hitting their 100th member
  • Clarification that all recordings will be legal

Nonprofit Youth Services Business Plan

This sample nonprofit business plan is for a much larger organization. Instead of focusing on the details of a membership model, it gets deeper into programs and services provided.

What we like

  • The mission is broken down by values
  • A detailed look at what each program provides
  • A thorough sales plan
  • Key assumptions are included for the financial plan

How to Create a Nonprofit Business Plan With Confidence

We hope this sheds some light on how creating a nonprofit business plan can help your organization moving forward! Remember: you know what you want for your organization. A business plan is simply a tool for making those dreams a reality.

Is a membership program part of your business plan? Check out WildApricot ’s award-winning membership management software!

With our 60-day free trial , you’ll have all the time you need to fall in love with what we have to offer.

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How to Write a Business Plan For a Nonprofit Organization + Template


Creating a business plan is essential for any business, but it can be especially helpful for nonprofits. A nonprofit business plan allows you to set goals and track progress over time. It can also help you secure funding from investors or grant-making organizations.

A well-crafted business plan not only outlines your vision for the organization but also provides a step-by-step process of how you are going to accomplish it. In order to create an effective business plan, you must first understand the components that are essential to its success.

This article will provide an overview of the key elements that every nonprofit founder should include in their business plan.

Download the Ultimate Nonprofit Business Plan Template

What is a Nonprofit Business Plan?

A nonprofit business plan is a formal written document that describes your organization’s purpose, structure, and operations. It is used to communicate your vision to potential investors or donors and convince them to support your cause.

The business plan should include information about your target market, financial projections, and marketing strategy. It should also outline the organization’s mission statement and goals.

Why Write a Nonprofit Business Plan?

A nonprofit business plan is required if you want to secure funding from grant-making organizations or investors.

A well-crafted business plan will help you:

  • Define your organization’s purpose and goals
  • Articulate your vision for the future
  • Develop a step-by-step plan to achieve your goals
  • Secure funding from investors or donors
  • Convince potential supporters to invest in your cause

Entrepreneurs can also use this as a roadmap when starting your new nonprofit organization, especially if you are inexperienced in starting a nonprofit.

Writing an Effective Nonprofit Business Plan

The key is to tailor your business plan to the specific needs of your nonprofit. Here’s a quick overview of what to include:

Executive Summary

Organization overview, products, programs, and services, industry analysis, customer analysis, marketing plan, operations plan, management team.

  • Financial Plan

The executive summary of a nonprofit business plan is a one-to-two page overview of your entire business plan. It should summarize the main points, which will be presented in full in the rest of your business plan.

  • Start with a one-line description of your nonprofit organization
  • Provide a short summary of the key points of each section of your business plan.
  • Organize your thoughts in a logical sequence that is easy for the reader to follow.
  • Include information about your organization’s management team, industry analysis, competitive analysis, and financial forecast.

This section should include a brief history of your nonprofit organization. Include a short description of how and why you started it and provide a timeline of milestones the organization has achieved.

If you are just starting your nonprofit, you may not have a long history. Instead, you can include information about your professional experience in the industry and how and why you conceived your new nonprofit idea. If you have worked for a similar organization before or have been involved in a nonprofit before starting your own, mention this.

You will also include information about your chosen n onprofit business model and how it is different from other nonprofits in your target market.

This section is all about what your nonprofit organization offers. Include information about your programs, services, and any products you may sell.

Describe the products or services you offer and how they benefit your target market. Examples might include:

  • A food bank that provides healthy meals to low-income families
  • A job training program that helps unemployed adults find jobs
  • An after-school program that helps kids stay out of gangs
  • An adult literacy program that helps adults learn to read and write

Include information about your pricing strategy and any discounts or promotions you offer. Examples might include membership benefits, free shipping, or volume discounts.

If you offer more than one product or service, describe each one in detail. Include information about who uses each product or service and how it helps them achieve their goals.

If you offer any programs, describe them in detail. Include information about how often they are offered and the eligibility requirements for participants. For example, if you offer a job training program, you might include information about how often the program is offered, how long it lasts, and what kinds of jobs participants can expect to find after completing the program.

The industry or market analysis is an important component of a nonprofit business plan. Conduct thorough market research to determine industry trends, identify your potential customers, and the potential size of this market. 

Questions to answer include:

  • What part of the nonprofit industry are you targeting?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • How big is the market?
  • What trends are happening in the industry right now?

You should also include information about your research methodology and sources of information, including company reports and expert opinions.

As an example, if you are starting a food bank, your industry analysis might include information about the number of people in your community who are considered “food insecure” (they don’t have regular access to enough nutritious food). You would also include information about other food banks in your area, how they are funded, and the services they offer.

For each of your competitors, you should include a brief description of their organization, their target market, and their competitive advantage. To do this, you should complete a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a helpful tool to assess your nonprofit’s current position and identify areas where you can improve.

Some questions to consider when conducting a SWOT analysis include:

  • Strengths : What does your nonprofit do well?
  • Weaknesses : What areas could your nonprofit improve?
  • Opportunities : What trends or changes in the industry could you take advantage of?
  • Threats : What trends or changes in the industry could hurt your nonprofit’s chances of success?

After you have identified your nonprofit’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can develop strategies to improve your organization.

For example, if you are starting a food bank, your SWOT analysis might reveal that there is a need for more food banks in your community. You could use this information to develop a marketing strategy to reach potential donors who might be interested in supporting your organization.

If you are starting a job training program, your SWOT analysis might reveal that there is a need for more programs like yours in the community. You could use this information to develop a business plan and marketing strategy to reach potential participants who might be interested in enrolling in your program.

This section should include a list of your target audience(s) with demographic and psychographic profiles (e.g., age, gender, income level, profession, job titles, interests). You will need to provide a profile of each customer segment separately, including their needs and wants.

For example, if you are starting a job training program for unemployed adults, your target audience might be low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 35. Your customer analysis would include information about their needs (e.g., transportation, childcare, job readiness skills) and wants (e.g., good pay, flexible hours, benefits).

If you have more than one target audience, you will need to provide a separate customer analysis for each one.

You can include information about how your customers make the decision to buy your product or use your service. For example, if you are starting an after-school program, you might include information about how parents research and compare programs before making a decision.

You should also include information about your marketing strategy and how you plan to reach your target market. For example, if you are starting a food bank, you might include information about how you will promote the food bank to the community and how you will get the word out about your services.

Develop a strategy for targeting those customers who are most likely to use your program, as well as those that might be influenced to buy your products or nonprofit services with the right marketing.

This part of the business plan is where you determine how you are going to reach your target market. This section of your nonprofit business plan should include information about your marketing goals, strategies, and tactics.

  • What are your marketing goals? Include information about what you hope to achieve with your marketing efforts, as well as when and how you will achieve it.
  • What marketing strategies will you use? Include information about public relations, advertising, social media, and other marketing tactics you will use to reach your target market.
  • What tactics will you use? Include information about specific actions you will take to execute your marketing strategy. For example, if you are using social media to reach your target market, include information about which platforms you will use and how often you will post.

Your marketing strategy should be clearly laid out, including the following 4 Ps.

  • Product/Service : Make sure your product, service, and/or program offering is clearly defined and differentiated from your competitors, including the benefits of using your service.
  • Price : How do you determine the price for your product, services, and/or programs? You should also include a pricing strategy that takes into account what your target market will be willing to pay and how much the competition within your market charges.
  • Place : Where will your target market find you? What channels of distribution will you use to reach them?
  • Promotion : How will you reach your target market? You can use social media or write a blog, create an email marketing campaign, post flyers, pay for advertising, launch a direct mail campaign, etc.

For example, if you are starting a job training program for unemployed adults, your marketing strategy might include partnering with local job centers and adult education programs to reach potential participants. You might also promote the program through local media outlets and community organizations.

Your marketing plan should also include a sales strategy, which includes information about how you will generate leads and convert them into customers.

You should also include information about your paid advertising budget, including an estimate of expenses and sales projections.

This part of your nonprofit business plan should include the following information:

  • How will you deliver your products, services and/or programs to your target market? For example, if you are starting a food bank, you will need to develop a system for collecting and storing food donations, as well as distributing them to the community.
  • How will your nonprofit be structured? For example, will you have paid staff or volunteers? How many employees will you need? What skills and experience will they need to have?
  • What kind of facilities and equipment will you need to operate your nonprofit? For example, if you are starting a job training program, you will need space to hold classes, as well as computers and other office equipment.
  • What are the day-to-day operations of your nonprofit? For example, if you are starting a food bank, you will need to develop a system for accepting and sorting food donations, as well as distributing them to the community.
  • Who will be responsible for each task? For example, if you are starting a job training program, you will need to identify who will be responsible for recruiting participants, teaching classes, and placing graduates in jobs.
  • What are your policies and procedures? You will want to establish policies related to everything from employee conduct to how you will handle donations.
  • What infrastructure, equipment, and resources are needed to operate successfully? How can you meet those requirements within budget constraints?

The operations plan is the section of the business plan where you elaborate on the day-to-day execution of your nonprofit. This is where you really get into the nitty-gritty of how your organization will function on a day-to-day basis.

This section of your nonprofit business plan should include information about the individuals who will be running your organization.

  • Who is on your team? Include biographies of your executive director, board of directors, and key staff members.
  • What are their qualifications? Include information about their education, work experience, and skills.
  • What are their roles and responsibilities? Include information about what each team member will be responsible for, as well as their decision-making authority.
  • What is their experience in the nonprofit sector? Include information about their work with other nonprofits, as well as their volunteer experiences.

This section of your plan is important because it shows that you have a team of qualified individuals who are committed to the success of your nonprofit.

Nonprofit Financial Plan

This section of your nonprofit business plan should include the following information:

  • Your budget. Include information about your income and expenses, as well as your fundraising goals.
  • Your sources of funding. Include information about your grants, donations, and other sources of income.
  • Use of funds. Include information about how you will use your income to support your programs and operations.

This section of your business plan is important because it shows that you have a clear understanding of your organization’s finances. It also shows that you have a plan for raising and managing your funds.

Now, include a complete and detailed financial plan. This is where you will need to break down your expenses and revenue projections for the first 5 years of operation. This includes the following financial statements:

Income Statement

Your income statement should include:

  • Revenue : how will you generate revenue?
  • Cost of Goods Sold : These are your direct costs associated with generating revenue. This includes labor costs, as well as the cost of any equipment and supplies used to deliver the product/service offering.
  • Net Income (or loss) : Once expenses and revenue are totaled and deducted from each other, what is the net income or loss? 

Sample Income Statement for a Startup Nonprofit Organization

Revenues $ 336,090 $ 450,940 $ 605,000 $ 811,730 $ 1,089,100
$ 336,090 $ 450,940 $ 605,000 $ 811,730 $ 1,089,100
Direct Cost
Direct Costs $ 67,210 $ 90,190 $ 121,000 $ 162,340 $ 217,820
$ 67,210 $ 90,190 $ 121,000 $ 162,340 $ 217,820
$ 268,880 $ 360,750 $ 484,000 $ 649,390 $ 871,280
Salaries $ 96,000 $ 99,840 $ 105,371 $ 110,639 $ 116,171
Marketing Expenses $ 61,200 $ 64,400 $ 67,600 $ 71,000 $ 74,600
Rent/Utility Expenses $ 36,400 $ 37,500 $ 38,700 $ 39,800 $ 41,000
Other Expenses $ 9,200 $ 9,200 $ 9,200 $ 9,400 $ 9,500
$ 202,800 $ 210,940 $ 220,871 $ 230,839 $ 241,271
EBITDA $ 66,080 $ 149,810 $ 263,129 $ 418,551 $ 630,009
Depreciation $ 5,200 $ 5,200 $ 5,200 $ 5,200 $ 4,200
EBIT $ 60,880 $ 144,610 $ 257,929 $ 413,351 $ 625,809
Interest Expense $ 7,600 $ 7,600 $ 7,600 $ 7,600 $ 7,600
$ 53,280 $ 137,010 $ 250,329 $ 405,751 $ 618,209
Taxable Income $ 53,280 $ 137,010 $ 250,329 $ 405,751 $ 618,209
Income Tax Expense $ 18,700 $ 47,900 $ 87,600 $ 142,000 $ 216,400
$ 34,580 $ 89,110 $ 162,729 $ 263,751 $ 401,809
10% 20% 27% 32% 37%

Balance Sheet

Include a balance sheet that shows what you have in terms of assets, liabilities, and equity. Your balance sheet should include:

  • Assets : All of the things you own (including cash).
  • Liabilities : This is what you owe against your company’s assets, such as accounts payable or loans.
  • Equity : The worth of your business after all liabilities and assets are totaled and deducted from each other.

Sample Balance Sheet for a Startup Nonprofit Organization

Cash $ 105,342 $ 188,252 $ 340,881 $ 597,431 $ 869,278
Other Current Assets $ 41,600 $ 55,800 $ 74,800 $ 90,200 $ 121,000
Total Current Assets $ 146,942 $ 244,052 $ 415,681 $ 687,631 $ 990,278
Fixed Assets $ 25,000 $ 25,000 $ 25,000 $ 25,000 $ 25,000
Accum Depreciation $ 5,200 $ 10,400 $ 15,600 $ 20,800 $ 25,000
Net fixed assets $ 19,800 $ 14,600 $ 9,400 $ 4,200 $ 0
$ 166,742 $ 258,652 $ 425,081 $ 691,831 $ 990,278
Current Liabilities $ 23,300 $ 26,100 $ 29,800 $ 32,800 $ 38,300
Debt outstanding $ 108,862 $ 108,862 $ 108,862 $ 108,862 $ 0
$ 132,162 $ 134,962 $ 138,662 $ 141,662 $ 38,300
Share Capital $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0
Retained earnings $ 34,580 $ 123,690 $ 286,419 $ 550,170 $ 951,978
$ 34,580 $ 123,690 $ 286,419 $ 550,170 $ 951,978
$ 166,742 $ 258,652 $ 425,081 $ 691,831 $ 990,278

Cash Flow Statement

Include a cash flow statement showing how much cash comes in, how much cash goes out and a net cash flow for each year. The cash flow statement should include:

  • Income : All of the revenue coming in from clients.
  • Expenses : All of your monthly bills and expenses. Include operating, marketing and capital expenditures.
  • Net Cash Flow : The difference between income and expenses for each month after they are totaled and deducted from each other. This number is the net cash flow for each month.

Using your total income and expenses, you can project an annual cash flow statement. Below is a sample of a projected cash flow statement for a startup nonprofit.

Sample Cash Flow Statement for a Startup Nonprofit Organization

Net Income (Loss) $ 34,580 $ 89,110 $ 162,729 $ 263,751 $ 401,809
Change in Working Capital $ (18,300) $ (11,400) $ (15,300) $ (12,400) $ (25,300)
Plus Depreciation $ 5,200 $ 5,200 $ 5,200 $ 5,200 $ 4,200
Net Cash Flow from Operations $ 21,480 $ 82,910 $ 152,629 $ 256,551 $ 380,709
Fixed Assets $ (25,000) $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0
Net Cash Flow from Investments $ (25,000) $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0
Cash from Equity $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0
Cash from Debt financing $ 108,862 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ (108,862)
Net Cash Flow from Financing $ 108,862 $ 0 $ 0 $ 0 $ (108,862)
Net Cash Flow $ 105,342 $ 82,910 $ 152,629 $ 256,551 $ 271,847
Cash at Beginning of Period $ 0 $ 105,342 $ 188,252 $ 340,881 $ 597,431
Cash at End of Period $ 105,342 $ 188,252 $ 340,881 $ 597,431 $ 869,278

Fundraising Plan

This section of your nonprofit business plan should include information about your fundraising goals, strategies, and tactics.

  • What are your fundraising goals? Include information about how much money you hope to raise, as well as when and how you will raise it.
  • What fundraising strategies will you use? Include information about special events, direct mail campaigns, online giving, and grant writing.
  • What fundraising tactics will you use? Include information about volunteer recruitment, donor cultivation, and stewardship.

Now include specific fundraising goals, strategies, and tactics. These could be annual or multi-year goals. Below are some examples:

Goal : To raise $50,000 in the next 12 months.

Strategy : Direct mail campaign

  • Create a mailing list of potential donors
  • Develop a direct mail piece
  • Mail the direct mail piece to potential donors

Goal : To raise $100,000 in the next 24 months.

Strategy : Special event

  • Identify potential special event sponsors
  • Recruit volunteers to help with the event
  • Plan and execute the special event

Goal : To raise $250,000 in the next 36 months.

Strategy : Grant writing

  • Research potential grant opportunities
  • Write and submit grant proposals
  • Follow up on submitted grants

This section of your business plan is important because it shows that you have a clear understanding of your fundraising goals and how you will achieve them.

You will also want to include an appendix section which may include:

  • Your complete financial projections
  • A complete list of your nonprofit’s policies and procedures related to the rest of the business plan (marketing, operations, etc.)
  • A list of your hard assets and equipment with purchase dates, prices paid and any other relevant information
  • A list of your soft assets with purchase dates, prices paid and any other relevant information
  • Biographies and/or resumes of the key members of your organization
  • Your nonprofit’s bylaws
  • Your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation
  • Your nonprofit’s most recent IRS Form 990
  • Any other relevant information that may be helpful in understanding your organization

Writing a good business plan gives you the advantage of being fully prepared to launch and grow your nonprofit organization. It not only outlines your vision but also provides a step-by-step process of how you are going to accomplish it. Sometimes it may be difficult to get started, but once you get the hang of it, writing a business plan becomes easier and will give you a sense of direction and clarity about your nonprofit organization.  

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Other helpful articles.

How to Write a Grant Proposal for Your Nonprofit Organization + Template & Examples

How To Create the Articles of Incorporation for Your Nonprofit Organization + Template

How to Develop a Nonprofit Communications Plan + Template

How to Write a Stand-Out Purpose Statement + Examples

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Nonprofit Business Plan

A business plan can be an invaluable tool for your nonprofit. Even a short business plan pushes you to do research, crystalize your purpose, and polish your messaging. This blog shares what it is and why you need it, ten steps to help you write one, and the dos and don’ts of creating a nonprofit business plan.

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Nonprofit business plans are dead — or are they?

For many nonprofit organizations, business plans represent outdated and cumbersome documents that get created “just for the sake of it” or because donors demand it.

But these plans are vital to organizing your nonprofit and making your dreams a reality! Furthermore, without a nonprofit business plan, you’ll have a harder time obtaining loans and grants , attracting corporate donors, meeting qualified board members, and keeping your nonprofit on track.

Even excellent ideas can be totally useless if you cannot formulate, execute, and implement a strategic plan to make your idea work. In this article, we share exactly what your plan needs and provide a nonprofit business plan template to help you create one of your own.

What is a Nonprofit Business Plan?

A nonprofit business plan describes your nonprofit as it currently is and sets up a roadmap for the next three to five years. It also lays out your goals and plans for meeting your goals. Your nonprofit business plan is a living document that should be updated frequently to reflect your evolving goals and circumstances.

A business plan is the foundation of your organization — the who, what, when, where, and how you’re going to make a positive impact.

The best nonprofit business plans aren’t unnecessarily long. They include only as much information as necessary. They may be as short as seven pages long, one for each of the essential sections you will read about below and see in our template, or up to 30 pages long if your organization grows.

Why do we need a Nonprofit Business Plan?

Regardless of whether your nonprofit is small and barely making it or if your nonprofit has been successfully running for years, you need a nonprofit business plan. Why?

When you create a nonprofit business plan, you are effectively creating a blueprint for how your nonprofit will be run, who will be responsible for what, and how you plan to achieve your goals.

Your nonprofit organization also needs a business plan if you plan to secure support of any kind, be it monetary, in-kind , or even just support from volunteers. You need a business plan to convey your nonprofit’s purpose and goals.

It sometimes also happens that the board, or the administration under which a nonprofit operates, requires a nonprofit business plan.

To sum it all up, write a nonprofit business plan to:

  • Layout your goals and establish milestones.
  • Better understand your beneficiaries, partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Assess the feasibility of your nonprofit and document your fundraising/financing model.
  • Attract investment and prove that you’re serious about your nonprofit.
  • Attract a board and volunteers.
  • Position your nonprofit and get clear about your message.
  • Force you to research and uncover new opportunities.
  • Iron out all the kinks in your plan and hold yourself accountable.

Drawing of a nonprofit business plan.

Before starting your nonprofit business plan, it is important to consider the following:

  • Who is your audience?  E.g. If you are interested in fundraising, donors will be your audience. If you are interested in partnerships, potential partners will be your audience.
  • What do you want their response to be? Depending on your target audience, you should focus on the key message you want them to receive to get the response that you want.

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10-Step Guide on Writing a Business Plan for Nonprofits

Note: Steps 1, 2, and 3 are in preparation for writing your nonprofit business plan.

Step 1: Data Collection

Before even getting started with the writing, collect financial, operating, and other relevant data. If your nonprofit is already in operation, this should at the very least include financial statements detailing operating expense reports and a spreadsheet that indicates funding sources.

If your nonprofit is new, compile materials related to any secured funding sources and operational funding projections, including anticipated costs.

Step 2: Heart of the Matter

You are a nonprofit after all! Your nonprofit business plan should start with an articulation of the core values and your mission statement . Outline your vision, your guiding philosophy, and any other principles that provide the purpose behind the work. This will help you to refine and communicate your nonprofit message clearly.

Your nonprofit mission statement can also help establish your milestones, the problems your organization seeks to solve, who your organization serves, and its future goals.

Check out these great mission statement examples for some inspiration. For help writing your statement, download our free Mission & Vision Statements Worksheet .

Step 3: Outline

Create an outline of your nonprofit business plan. Write out everything you want your plan to include (e.g. sections such as marketing, fundraising, human resources, and budgets).

An outline helps you focus your attention. It gives you a roadmap from the start, through the middle, and to the end. Outlining actually helps us write more quickly and more effectively.

An outline will help you understand what you need to tell your audience, whether it’s in the right order, and whether the right amount of emphasis is placed on each topic.

Pro tip: Use our Nonprofit Business Plan Outline to help with this step! More on that later.

Step 4: Products, Programs, and Services

In this section, provide more information on exactly what your nonprofit organization does.

  • What products, programs, or services do you provide?
  • How does your nonprofit benefit the community?
  • What need does your nonprofit meet and what are your plans for meeting that need?
E.g. The American Red Cross carries out its mission to prevent and relieve suffering with five key services: disaster relief, supporting America’s military families, lifesaving blood, health and safety services, and international service.

Don’t skimp out on program details, including the functions and beneficiaries. This is generally what most readers will care most about.

However, don’t overload the reader with technical jargon. Try to present some clear examples. Include photographs, brochures, and other promotional materials.

Step 5: Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is essential for a nonprofit to reach its goals. If your nonprofit is already in operation, describe in detail all current marketing activities: any outreach activities, campaigns, and other initiatives. Be specific about outcomes, activities, and costs.

If your nonprofit is new, outline projections based on specific data you gathered about your market.

This will frequently be your most detailed section because it spells out precisely how you intend to carry out your business plan.

  • Describe your market. This includes your target audience, competitors, beneficiaries, donors, and potential partners.
  • Include any market analyses and tests you’ve done.
  • Outline your plan for reaching your beneficiaries.
  • Outline your marketing activities, highlighting specific outcomes.

Step 6: Operational Plan

An operational plan describes how your nonprofit plans to deliver activities. In the operational plan, it is important to explain how you plan to maintain your operations and how you will evaluate the impact of your programs.

The operational plan should give an overview of the day-to-day operations of your organization such as the people and organizations you work with (e.g. partners and suppliers), any legal requirements that your organization needs to meet (e.g. if you distribute food, you’ll need appropriate licenses and certifications), any insurance you have or will need, etc.

In the operational plan, also include a section on the people or your team. Describe the people who are crucial to your organization and any staff changes you plan as part of your business plan.

Pro tip: If you have an organizational chart, you can include it in the appendix to help illustrate how your organization operates. Learn more about the six types of nonprofit organizational charts and see them in action in this free e-book . 

Example of a top-down organizational chart.

Step 7: Impact Plan

For a nonprofit, an impact plan is as important as a financial plan. A nonprofit seeks to create social change and a social return on investment, not just a financial return on investment.

Your impact plan should be precise about how your nonprofit will achieve this step. It should include details on what change you’re seeking to make, how you’re going to make it, and how you’re going to measure it.

This section turns your purpose and motivation into concrete accomplishments your nonprofit wants to make and sets specific goals and objectives.

These define the real bottom line of your nonprofit, so they’re the key to unlocking support. Funders want to know for whom, in what way, and exactly how you’ll measure your impact.

Answer these in the impact plan section of your business plan:

  • What goals are most meaningful to the people you serve or the cause you’re fighting for?
  • How can you best achieve those goals through a series of specific objectives?
E.g. “Finding jobs for an additional 200 unemployed people in the coming year.”

Step 8: Financial Plan

This is one of the most important parts of your nonprofit business plan. Creating a financial plan will allow you to make sure that your nonprofit has its basic financial needs covered.

Every nonprofit needs a certain level of funding to stay operational, so it’s essential to make sure your organization will meet at least that threshold.

To craft your financial plan:

  • Outline your nonprofit’s current and projected financial status.
  • Include an income statement, balance sheet , cash flow statement, and financial projections.
  • List any grants you’ve received, significant contributions, and in-kind support.
  • Include your fundraising plan .
  • Identify gaps in your funding, and how you will manage them.
  • Plan for what will be done with a potential surplus.
  • Include startup costs, if necessary.

If your nonprofit is already operational, use established accounting records to complete this section of the business plan.

Knowing the financial details of your organization is incredibly important in a world where the public demands transparency about where their donations are going.

Pro tip : Leverage startup accelerators dedicated to nonprofits that can help you with funding, sponsorship, networking, and much more.

Step 9: Executive Summary

Normally written last but placed first in your business plan, your nonprofit executive summary provides an introduction to your entire business plan. The first page should describe your non-profit’s mission and purpose, summarize your market analysis that proves an identifiable need, and explain how your non-profit will meet that need.

The Executive Summary is where you sell your nonprofit and its ideas. Here you need to describe your organization clearly and concisely.

Make sure to customize your executive summary depending on your audience (i.e. your executive summary page will look different if your main goal is to win a grant or hire a board member).

Step 10: Appendix

Include extra documents in the section that are pertinent to your nonprofit: organizational chart , current fiscal year budget, a list of the board of directors, your IRS status letter, balance sheets, and so forth.

The appendix contains helpful additional information that might not be suitable for the format of your business plan (i.e. it might unnecessarily make it less readable or more lengthy).

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Do’s and Dont’s of Nonprofit Business Plans – Tips

  • Write clearly, using simple and easy-to-understand language.
  • Get to the point, support it with facts, and then move on.
  • Include relevant graphs and program descriptions.
  • Include an executive summary.
  • Provide sufficient financial information.
  • Customize your business plan to different audiences.
  • Stay authentic and show enthusiasm.
  • Make the business plan too long.
  • Use too much technical jargon.
  • Overload the plan with text.
  • Rush the process of writing, but don’t drag it either.
  • Gush about the cause without providing a clear understanding of how you will help the cause through your activities.
  • Keep your formatting consistent.
  • Use standard 1-inch margins.
  • Use a reasonable font size for the body.
  • For print, use a serif font like Times New Roman or Courier. For digital, use sans serifs like Verdana or Arial.
  • Start a new page before each section.
  • Don’t allow your plan to print and leave a single line on an otherwise blank page.
  • Have several people read over the plan before it is printed to make sure it’s free of errors.

Nonprofit Business Plan Template

To help you get started we’ve created a nonprofit business plan outline. This business plan outline will work as a framework regardless of your nonprofit’s area of focus. With it, you’ll have a better idea of how to lay out your nonprofit business plan and what to include. We have also provided several questions and examples to help you create a detailed nonprofit business plan.

Download Your Free Outline

Image showing the title page of the Nonprofit Business Plan Outline e-book.

At Donorbox, we strive to make your nonprofit experience as productive as possible, whether through our donation software  or through our advice and guides on the  Nonprofit Blog . Find more free, downloadable resources in our Library .

Many nonprofits start with passion and enthusiasm but without a proper business plan. It’s a common misconception that just because an organization is labeled a “nonprofit,” it does not need to operate in any way like a business.

However, a nonprofit is a type of business, and many of the same rules that apply to a for-profit company also apply to a nonprofit organization.

As outlined above, your nonprofit business plan is a combination of your marketing plan , strategic plan, operational plan, impact plan, and financial plan. Remember, you don’t have to work from scratch. Be sure to use the nonprofit business plan outline we’ve provided to help create one of your own. 

It’s important to note that your nonprofit should not be set in stone—it can and should change and evolve. It’s a living organism. While your vision, values, and mission will likely remain the same, your nonprofit business plan may need to be revised from time to time. Keep your audience in mind and adjust your plan as needed.

Finally, don’t let your plan gather dust on a shelf! Print it out, put up posters on your office walls, and read from it during your team meetings. Use all the research, data, and ideas you’ve gathered and put them into action!

If you want more help with nonprofit management tips and fundraising resources, visit our Nonprofit Blog . We also have dedicated articles for starting a nonprofit in different states in the U.S., including Texas , Minnesota , Oregon , Arizona , Illinois , and more.

Learn about our all-in-one online fundraising tool, Donorbox, and its simple-to-use features on the website here .

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Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Download our Non-Profit Business Plan and create a business plan for your non-profit!

Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Updated September 24, 2023 Written by Josh Sainsbury | Reviewed by Brooke Davis

Running a successful non-profit organization is challenging. A business plan is one tool that helps steer your organization in the right direction. It clearly articulates your goals and details how to accomplish them.

It also shows external stakeholders that you’re serious about your non-profit and reassures them that they can work with you or provide you with funding.

This guide helps you understand how to write a non-profit business plan and includes a free template to help you get started.

Why You Need a Business Plan for Your Non-profit Business

How to write a business plan for a non-profit, non-profit business plan example.

A business plan is a roadmap. It shows where your organization is now, where you want to go, and how to get there.

Typically, a non-profit business plan spans the upcoming three to five years. Every non-profit organization should have a business plan, regardless of size or financial status. It helps you:

  • Stay organized
  • Identify essential stakeholders in your organization
  • Understand the feasibility of your work
  • Attract volunteers and an administrative board
  • Uncover new opportunities

A non-profit business plan is also an essential document for securing funding. If you hope to get significant donations or grants, you must show donors or grantmakers your goals and objectives.

They want proof that your organization will achieve its goals, and there’s no better way to reassure them than with a clear, concise business plan.

Writing a business plan is easy if you take it step-by-step and use a template to create each section. As you write, keep your target audience in mind: How do you want them to respond to this business plan?

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary gives a general outline of your entire business plan. It gives the reader a clear idea of what to expect in the rest of the document. An executive summary also contains enough information so that someone who doesn’t have the time to read your entire business plan can get a sense of your organization, goals, and methods.

In your executive summary, cover what your non-profit does, the basic need you address, and why that need exists. Most importantly, explain how your organization plans to meet the demand. This first section of your business plan concisely tells your story. Your goal in crafting it should be to sum up the whole document while convincing the reader to keep reading.

As this section is a general summary of the rest of your business plan, it helps to write the executive summary last.

2. Management Team

The second section in your non-profit business plan covers your management team or organizational structure. Here, you explain who runs your organization and what their tasks are. You should also mention which type of non-profit you are (501(c)(3), fraternal beneficiary, horticultural, labor, etc.).

In addition to discussing your management team or board of directors, mention if your organization has employees, utilizes volunteers, or both.

If you have a facility dedicated to running your non-profit, here is the place to describe it. Noting your previous successes in this section may help convince donors to fund you.

If you are a new organization, use this section to describe your vision and how you’ll use practical methods to solve real problems.

3. Products and Services

In the products and services section, discuss your plans for achieving your goals. Describe, in detail, the needs of your community that your organization addresses.

Then, document how you will meet those needs. Do you create and offer products that improve lives? Do you run programs that provide needed services and support? Be explicit about what you do and how it helps people in need.

When describing your products and services, use numbers. For instance, if you run a food pantry, provide statistics about food insecurity in your area. Mention your daily capacity for distributing food based on your expected number of donations.

Also, include information about the people administering your products and services. Who works at your food pantry? Who organizes the donations and assigns volunteers?

This section should contain specific and concrete facts about your non-profit’s work, as these numbers will help convince donors and partners to fund or work with you.

4. Customers and Marketing

Your non-profit business plan should contain a marketing strategy. In the customers and marketing section, describe how you promote your efforts and be specific. Some common types of non-profit marketing channels include:

  • Printing and distributing promotional materials
  • Online marketing
  • Social media posts
  • Email newsletters
  • Maintaining and updating a website
  • Marketing partnerships
  • Fundraisers
  • Outreach events

If you’re a new non-profit and haven’t started marketing, mention your plan. State the scope of your marketing efforts, including your target demographics and whether your strategy is local, national, or international.

In addition to marketing methods, this section of your business plan should iterate your messaging.

What type of language will your campaigns focus on? Do you have critical slogans, logos, or other brand assets you plan to use? If not, how will you develop those assets? If you’ve done a marketing analysis, include it in this section.

5. SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a critical part of any business plan, whether for-profit or non-profit. SWOT is a strategic framework that helps you identify your vital areas and room for improvement.

To find your strengths , ask what your organization does well. Which unique resources do you have that you can draw on? Also, evaluate what competitors or other organizations might see as your strengths.

To find your weaknesses , ask what your organization can improve upon. Which resources are you lacking? What might external stakeholders identify as your weaknesses?

To find opportunities , look at the trends in your field upon which you might capitalize. Opportunities usually come from outside your organization and require a forward-thinking mindset.

To find threats , think about what could harm your non-profit. What is your competition doing better than you are? Which external factors may hurt your operations?

6. Financials

Your non-profit cannot operate without funding. Your financial section covers how you plan to pay for everything you need. This section is essential because you can’t carry out your other activities without a solid funding source.

Mention your current financial status, including assets and liabilities. Also, include essential financial documents such as income statements, a cash flow sheet, and a balance sheet.

What else should go in your non-profit business plan’s financial section? Be sure to highlight:

  • Your fundraising plan
  • Grants you’ve received or a plan for applying for grants
  • Potential obstacles to gathering funding and proposed solutions
  • What you’ll do with surplus donations
  • Startup costs if you’re not established yet

You cannot give too much financial information, so always include anything you think might be relevant. Your potential partners and donors want a clear picture of your financial situation.

7. Operations

Explain how you plan to carry out your programs or provide your services in your operations section. Your products and services section is the “what,” and your operations section is the “how.”

Retake the food pantry example. You’ve already described what it is using numbers and statistical data; now, you explain how it runs.

Is it open every day, and for how long? Where and from whom will you collect food donations? Are there any goods you will not accept? Can you hold food drives with schools, churches, or other organizations? What rules will you have about distributing food for volunteers and the recipients?

As you develop your operations strategy, ask yourself, “How.” Keep asking until you have a clear, detailed plan that describes your work. Don’t forget to include a sub-section about your team, volunteers, or the people carrying out your operations.

Their strengths will also keep your non-profit running, so you should mention them in your business plan.

8. Appendix

The appendix of your non-profit business plan is where you attach additional documents that your readers may find helpful. Charts, data, or lists typically go in the appendix. Add any information that seems too lengthy or complex to read in the body of your business plan.

Some examples of appendix documents include:

  • List your board of directors
  • Status letter from the IRS
  • Balance sheets
  • Management flow chart
  • Budget for the current fiscal year
  • Market analysis

With an appendix, you don’t have to be as concerned about structure as you are with the body of the business plan. Think of it as a reference section for your readers.

A sample business plan already has the structure for you; you have to fill in each section with the relevant information.

Writing a non-profit business plan is simpler when you work from a template. Download our free PDF or Word template and fill it out independently.

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Nonprofit Business Plan Template

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Nonprofit Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

  • by Jess Convocar on February 21, 2024
  • last update on May 06, 2024
  • Reading Time: 7 minutes

Nonprofit Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

Like any other business, nonprofit organizations need careful, structured planning to ensure sustainable growth. This is possible by creating a business plan that not only serves as a roadmap but also helps in attracting donors and volunteers needed to bring the organization’s vision to fruition.

Crafting the perfect business plan involves many things, but the most important part is understanding what it should look like and how it can help the organization forward its mission. This guide simplifies the process, breaks down its unique components, and provides step-by-step instructions on how to write a nonprofit business plan.

What is a business plan for nonprofits?

A business plan for nonprofits is a strategic document that outlines a nonprofit organization’s goals and operational approach. While similar to for-profit business plans, the focus here is on achieving social impact rather than financial profit.

Projects implemented by nonprofit organizations typically revolve around fostering social welfare, advocacy, education, or humanitarian aid. For instance, a nonprofit working to address homelessness might outline projects such as providing shelter and meals, offering job training programs, and collaborating with local agencies to advocate for affordable housing policies.

A typical business plan for nonprofits includes:

  • The nonprofit’s mission, which sets the foundation for the entire plan;
  • Specific objectives,
  • Fundraising strategies,
  • Resource allocation,
  • And how it plans to measure success in terms of societal or community benefit.

But one thing to note is that there is no one-size-fits-all plan. Every little detail incorporated into the plan must be tailored to the organization’s needs, where it currently stands, and how it can contribute to its primary purpose – guiding the nonprofit to success.

Why Your Nonprofit Needs a Business Plan

A good plan does not only help attract external support but also benefits the organization internally. Listed below are the key reasons why your nonprofit needs a business plan:

Clarity of Mission, Vision, and Strategic Direction

Running a nonprofit organization isn’t the easiest task, and there may be times when you question whether you’re truly making an impact. Having a business plan gives you a perspective of the progress you’ve made and provides a distinct path moving forward.

This clear-cut framework ensures that the mission, vision, and strategic direction remain focused, helping the nonprofit make informed decisions and navigate challenges with purpose.

Proper Resource Planning and Financial Management

Poor financial management can lead to many problems, especially in nonprofits. With a business plan, this can easily be taken care of.

Since nonprofit organizations rely on various external funds, there should be an emphasis on resource planning and management. This involves forecasting the organization’s needs, such as financial, human, and technological resources, and strategically allocating them to support the mission and vision. Doing so also demonstrates fiscal responsibility to donors and stakeholders.

Strategic Fundraising and Sustainability

One of the most common and effective ways nonprofits gain support is through fundraising activities. A business plan helps you develop a targeted fundraising strategy that aligns with the organization’s goals. Clearly outlining the fundraising objectives, target audiences, and specific tactics provides a roadmap for effective resource mobilization.

Additionally, a structured plan attracts and retains donors by instilling confidence in them about the tangible impact their contributions can make.

Risk Management

A business plan is vital for developing strategies to handle risks and potential challenges. This proactive approach helps minimize the impact of unforeseen events, like economic recessions or natural disasters, on the nonprofit’s operations.

A robust risk management strategy not only saves time and money but also improves decision-making, avoids surprises, and, most importantly, prevents harm to the people your nonprofit serves.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Because the business plan already lays out how the organization works, it’s easier to understand and adhere to nonprofit laws like tax exemption and revenue regulations.

Dealing with these things from the start helps prevent potential problems, maintains transparency, and builds trust with stakeholders. This allows you to focus on carrying out the mission without legal conflicts.

How to Create a Business Plan Strategy

steps to create a business plan strategy

When gearing up to create a business plan for your nonprofit organization, it’s important to begin by thoroughly understanding the unique aspects of your mission. This solid foundation will guide you through the next steps of crafting a well-thought-out plan, which includes:

1. Create a strategy

Before anything else, you must identify your why .

Ask yourself what you want to happen. What does the organization stand for? Who does it serve? What do you hope for it to become?

If your long-term goal is to create a lasting impact and expand the community you serve, establish a strategy that mirrors your mission. Begin by assessing your organization’s current position, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Based on your assessment, leverage the strengths and address weaknesses that may hinder progress.

Next, clearly define who your target audience is. Understand their specific needs and preferences to tailor your approach effectively.

Once the key factors have been determined and written down, it will serve as the starting point for the strategy.

2. Plan programs

The planning step is where you delve into the how. What are your plans to sustain and amplify the impact you aim to create?

Since you are not selling products or providing services to generate revenue, you’ll need to rely on fundraising events to support your cause. To do this effectively, create detailed program plans covering goals, activities, timelines, and expected outcomes. As always, ensure these plans align with your organization’s mission.

After establishing the programs, set up a monitoring system that tracks their effectiveness and evaluates them regularly. This helps you make informed changes as the nonprofit or the community’s needs evolve.

3. Ensure financial sustainability

Nonprofits receive financial support from various channels, such as individual donations, grants, sponsorships, and fundraising events. To ensure economic sustainability, building relationships with potential donors, individuals, institutions, and various funding sources is important to avoid relying too much on a single avenue.

In this sense, a well-thought-out budget is crucial for financial stability. Make sure to allocate resources carefully, considering program costs, administration expenses, and other needs. A clear and transparent budget not only aids in financial planning but also boosts trust with supporters.

4. Prioritize legal considerations

Even though dealing with changing rules might seem to lead to more paperwork than focusing on your mission, remember that compliance is as important as pursuing your organization’s goals. Some vital legal considerations include:

  • Legal structure and registration
  • Tax exemption (if applicable)
  • Fundraising compliance
  • Financial accountability
  • Intellectual property (such as logos, trademarks, and copyrights)
  • Data protection and privacy

Maintaining a good standing is crucial for obtaining licenses, securing grants and funding, protecting your organization’s reputation, and keeping the right to solicit support.

If you don’t have an in-house legal counsel, it’s a good idea to seek advice from experts who know nonprofit laws in your area when planning your business.

How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan

nonprofit business plan components

Now that you’ve covered all the essential details, the next step is to create the business plan outline. There’s no strict format to follow, as it all depends on your organization’s specifics. However, make sure not to exclude these essential components when creating a nonprofit business plan:

1. Executive Summary

This part is a quick overview of the whole document. Since it’s the first thing people see in the business plan, it’s crucial to make it clear and interesting enough to grab their attention and encourage them to read the entire plan. Include the organization’s fundamentals – its history, objectives, and financing plans.

2. Organizational Overview

Provide a gist of who you are and who you serve. Here, express the organization’s mission, vision, and specific short-term and long-term goals.

3. Products, Programs, or Services Rendered

In this section, you must provide a detailed description of all the products and services mentioned in the executive summary. Highlight any unique aspects, such as innovative features and distinct advantages, that set you apart. State how instrumental these are to the success of your initiatives and how each one addresses the industry need.

4. Operational Plan

This is where you detail how your nonprofit will function on a day-to-day basis. Outline each team member’s daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, specifying responsibilities, timelines, and collaboration points to ensure a cohesive and efficient operation.

Additionally, spotlight any key processes, workflows, or systems necessary to achieve your mission.

5. Marketing Plan

The marketing plan should reflect the mission of the organization. Under this section, outline the strategies and channels to get your nonprofit out there. Include details about your target audience, methods for reaching them, and any promotional activities. This section may also cover partnerships, collaborations, and outreach efforts.

6. Financial Plan

The financial plan provides a comprehensive overview of your nonprofit’s financial health and projections. Include a budget, funding sources, and a breakdown of how funds will be allocated to support your operations and programs. This part is vital for demonstrating sustainability and helping make better-informed decisions.

7. Appendix

In the appendix, incorporate all the additional documents and information supporting the business plan’s main body. This may include resumes of key personnel, detailed financial statements, legal documents, or any other relevant materials.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to write a business plan:

  • Start by outlining the executive summary providing a concise overview of the plan.
  • Develop the organizational overview, which includes the mission and vision of the nonprofit.
  • Conduct a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis to identify and address internal and external factors.
  • Clearly articulate short-term and long-term goals and objectives.
  • Describe the programs and activities that will help achieve these goals.
  • Develop a marketing and outreach strategy to engage the community and attract support.
  • Create a detailed financial plan, including budgets, revenue streams, and financial projections.
  • Outline the governance and management structure, including roles and responsibilities.
  • Detail monitoring and evaluation processes to assess program effectiveness.

Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Once you have a clear grasp of your organizational goals and strategies, here’s a sample nonprofit business plan template to get you started:

one page nonprofit business plan template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Nonprofit Business Plan

Q: how often should a non-profit business plan be updated.

Although nonprofit plans usually set up a roadmap for at least three to five years, they should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with the organization’s purpose and changing external factors. For younger companies, an annual update with six monthly reviews may be sufficient, while more established nonprofits might opt for an annual review with quarterly check-ins.

Q: What role does evaluation play in a non-profit business plan?

Smaller nonprofits often conduct formal evaluations because their funders require it, but the benefits extend in both directions. Internally, evaluations help the organization assess its performance, impact, and effectiveness. In doing so, the nonprofit meets funder expectations and gains valuable insights for improvement, ensuring transparency and better alignment with its mission.

Q: How can a non-profit maintain adaptability in its strategies?

To stay adaptable, a nonprofit can follow three basic practices. First, keep the business plan up-to-date to align with the changing goals and environment. Second, stay on top of current industry trends to anticipate shifts in the landscape and prepare ahead of time. Lastly, revamp tools and approaches to ensure strategies remain innovative and effective.

Plan for Nonprofit Success with Convene

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A well-crafted nonprofit business plan is crucial for success. To achieve this, cooperation is necessary within the internal teams and partners. However, communication can be a common roadblock, especially in a remote workplace.

This is where Convene comes into play.

Convene is a reliable board portal for nonprofits that facilitates effective planning through its interactive and secure features. Easily collaborate with everyone in the organization by leveraging Convene’s live meeting capabilities, such as annotations and digital sign-offs. Also, keep track of the updates and reports with its secure document management features.

Check out this page to learn more about Convene and how it can benefit your nonprofit organizations.

Jess Convocar

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Non-Profit Business Plan Template

Non-Profit Business Plan Template

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Updated January 09, 2023

A non-profit business plan is a written roadmap for a non-profit organization. It serves to communicate the core purpose, funding needs, and action plan of the organization. Non-profit business plans typically describe in detail the organization’s mission and values, administrative structure, staffing, industry analysis, revenue and donations, key milestones, and other elements specific to the organization type.

  • Sample Business Plans
  • Nonprofit & Community

Nonprofit Business Plan

Executive summary image

A nonprofit organization is an excellent way of serving society. If you’re someone wanting to support a cause or make a meaningful impact on society, it’s the way to do it.

Nonprofit organizations do not run for money or profits; they must still be properly managed and organized. A nonprofit business plan can do just that for any organization.

Need help writing a business plan for your nonprofit organization? Creating a business plan can help you fulfill your cause hassle-free and more manageable. So, we have prepared a nonprofit business plan template to help you start writing yours.

Key Takeaways

  • Your nonprofit business plan should have an executive summary section summarizing the entire plan and providing an overview of the organization’s mission, goals, and strategies.
  • Your organization overview section will cover your organization’s foundational elements like name, type, legal structure, location, and history.
  • Prepare a detailed section to describe your programs, products, and services as well as the impact of your offering on society.
  • Conduct thorough market research to understand and explain your target market, market size, growth potential, trends, and competitive landscape.
  • Prepare an effective operational plan outlining your day-to-day operational process, staffing requirements, quality control, and information about technologies and equipment in use.
  • Introduce your management team to your readers as well as the details about the organization structure and compensation plan.
  • Prepare accurate financial projections for your nonprofit. Emphasize providing details about revenue streams, fundraising goals, expenses, and financial ratios.

How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan?

1. executive summary.

An executive summary is the first section of the business plan to provide an overview of the organization’s missions, goals, and key strategies. In addition to highlighting your organization’s unique value proposition, it should provide a snapshot of its operations and impact. Generally, it is written after the entire business plan is ready. Here are some key components to add to your summary:

Organization summary:

Mission statement:, products, programs, and services:, impacts and outcomes:, management team:, financial highlights:, call to action:.

Think of your readers as potential donors and someone who has never heard of your organization. So, keep your executive summary concise and clear, use simple language, and avoid jargon.

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2. Organization Overview

Depending on the organization’s details, you must add various organizational overview elements. Still, every organization should include some foundational elements like its name, purpose, operations, legal structure, location, and history.

Organization Description:

Provide all the basic information about your nonprofit in this section like

  • Name & Type of Your Organization: Describe the name and type of your nonprofit organization. For instance, you may operate one of these types of nonprofit organizations:
  • Educational organizations
  • Charitable organizations
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Religious organizations
  • Location of your nonprofit and why you selected that place.

Mission & Vision:

Organization history:.

If you’re an established nonprofit, you can provide information about your organization’s history, like when it was founded and how it evolved. If you can, add some personality and intriguing details, especially if you got any achievements or recognitions till now for your incredible community services.

Future goals:

It’s crucial to convey your aspirations and your vision. Mention your short-term and long-term goals with the nonprofit; they can be specific targets depending on your ultimate vision.

This section should provide an in-depth understanding of the nonprofit organization. Also, the business overview section should be engaging and precise.

3. Products, Programs, and Services

The products, programs, and services section of a nonprofit business plan should describe specific products, programs, and services that will offer to its beneficiaries. Your nonprofit may or may not have all products, programs, and services to offer.

So, write this section depending on your organization’s offerings:

In a nutshell, your products, programs, and services section should describe how your nonprofit meets needs and positively impacts the community. Use solid examples and numbers to back your claims.

Some additional tips for writing the market analysis section of your business plan:

  • Use a variety of sources to gather data, including industry reports, market research studies, and surveys.
  • Be specific and provide detailed information wherever possible.
  • Include charts and graphs to help illustrate your key points.
  • Keep your target audience in mind while writing the business plan

4. Market Analysis

Market analysis provides a clear understanding of the market your nonprofit will run along with the target market, competitors, and growth opportunities. Your market analysis should contain the following essential components:

Target Market:

Market size and growth potential:, competitive analysis:, market trends:.

  • For example, It may be necessary for a nonprofit focused on environmental conservation to adapt its messaging to reflect the growing demand for sustainable products and practices.

Regulatory Environment:

Some additional tips for writing the market analysis section of your nonprofit business plan:

  • Use various sources to gather data, including industry reports, market research studies, and surveys.
  • Keep your target audience in mind while writing the business plan.

5. Sales And Marketing Strategies

Building awareness, promoting engagement, and generating revenue should be the focus of your business plan’s “Sales and marketing strategies” section. Here are some key elements to include in your sales & marketing plan:

Unique Value Proposition (UVP):

Marketing mix:, marketing channels:, fundraising strategies:.

  • Identify fundraising strategies that align with the nonprofit’s mission, vision, and values.

Donor Retention:

In short, a nonprofit business plan’s sales and marketing strategies section should describe how your organization can reach, engage, and retain your target market and generate sustainable revenue.

Be specific, realistic, and data-driven in your approach, and be prepared to adjust your strategies based on feedback and results.

6. Operations Plan

When writing the operations plan section, it’s essential to consider the various aspects of your organization’s processes and procedures involved in operating a nonprofit. Here are the components to include in an operations plan:

Staffing & Training:

Operational process:.

  • Your operations must also include details on monitoring and evaluating programs and their impact on the community.

Quality Control:

Facilities and equipment:, technology & information system:.

By including these key elements in your operations plan section, you can create a comprehensive plan that outlines how you will run your nonprofit organization.

7. Management Team

The management team section provides an overview of the nonprofit organization’s management team. This section should provide a detailed description of each manager’s experience and qualifications, as well as their responsibilities and roles.


Key managers:.

  • It should include the owners, senior management, other department managers, and people involved in the organizational operations, along with their education and professional background.

Organizational structure:

Compensation plan:.

Overall, the management team section of your business plan should mention key personnel involved in successfully running your organizational operations.

So, highlight your organization’s key personnel and demonstrate why you have the right team to execute your organization’s mission.

8. Financial Plan

When writing the financial plan section of a business plan, it’s important to provide a comprehensive overview of your financial projections and goals for the first few years of your organization.

Revenue Streams:

Fundraising goals:, financial ratios:, risk analysis:.

Remember to be realistic with your financial projections and provide supporting evidence for your estimates.

9. Appendix

Include any additional information supporting your plan’s main content when writing the appendix section. This may include financial statements, market research data, legal documents, and other relevant information.

  • Include a table of contents for the appendix section to make it easy for readers to find specific information.
  • Include financial statements such as income, balance sheets, and cash flow statements . These should be up-to-date and show your financial projections for at least the first three years of your business.
  • Provide market research data, such as statistics on the industry’s size, consumer demographics, and trends in the industry.
  • Include any legal documents such as permits, licenses, and contracts.
  • Provide any additional documentation related to your business plans, such as marketing materials, product brochures, and operational procedures.
  • Use clear headings and labels for each section of the appendix so that readers can easily find the necessary information.

Remember, the appendix section of your nonprofit organization should only include relevant and essential information supporting your plan’s main content.

Download a sample nonprofit organization business plan

Need help writing a business plan for your nonprofit? Here you go; download our free nonprofit organization business plan pdf to start.

It’s a modern business plan template specifically designed for your nonprofit organization. Use the example business plan as a guide for writing your own.

You may explore our other nonprofit and community business plan examples before you start writing

The Quickest Way to turn a Business Idea into a Business Plan

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Write your business plan with Upmetrics

A business plan app like Upmetrics is the best way to draft your business plan. This incredible tool comes with step-by-step instructions and 400+ customizable sample business plans to help you get started.

So, whether starting a nonprofit organization or planning to grow an existing one, Upmetrics is the tool you need to create a business plan.

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Frequently asked questions, why do you need a nonprofit business plan.

Business plans outline the organization’s goals, strategies, and tactics for achieving its mission. Nonprofit business plans serve as a roadmap for staff, lenders, and other shareholders, helping them make informed decisions, measure progress, and remain focused on the organization’s mission.

How to get funding for your nonprofit business?

Fundraising for a nonprofit can be challenging, but a few strategies and a strategic approach can help you achieve your goal. 

Here are some of the most common ways to get funding for your nonprofit:

  • Individual Donations: Individual donations are among key revenue streams for any nonprofit. It includes both one-time payments as well as recurring assistance.
  • Grants: Many foundations and government agencies offer grants to nonprofit organizations that meet specific criteria.
  • Corporate Sponsorships: A nonprofit can approach corporations that align with its values and mission to gain sponsorships for charity events, programs, or projects.
  • Crowdfunding: The process of supporting a business or organization by getting many people to invest in your nonprofit organization, usually online. 

Where to find business plan writers for your nonprofit business?

There are many business plan writers available, but no one knows your business and idea better than you, so we recommend you write your nonprofit business plan and outline your vision as you have in your mind.

What is the easiest way to write your nonprofit business plan?

A lot of research is necessary for writing a business plan, but you can write your plan most efficiently with the help of any nonprofit business plan example and edit it as per your need. You can also quickly finish your plan in just a few hours or less with the help of our business plan software.

About the Author

one page nonprofit business plan template

Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more

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Business Planning for Nonprofits

Business planning is a way of systematically answering questions such as, “What problem(s) are we trying to solve?” or “What are we trying to achieve?” and also, “Who will get us there, by when, and how much money and other resources will it take?”

The business planning process takes into account the nonprofit’s mission and vision, the role of the board, and external environmental factors, such as the climate for fundraising.

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Ideally, the business planning process also critically examines basic assumptions about the nonprofit’s operating environment. What if the sources of income that exist today change in the future? Is the nonprofit too reliant on one foundation for revenue? What happens if there’s an economic downturn?

A business plan can help the nonprofit and its board be prepared for future risks. What is the likelihood that the planned activities will continue as usual, and that revenue will continue at current levels – and what is Plan B if they don't?

Narrative of a business plan

You can think of a business plan as a narrative or story explaining how the nonprofit will operate given its activities, its sources of revenue, its expenses, and the inevitable changes in its internal and external environments over time. Ideally, your plan will tell the story in a way that will make sense to someone not intimately familiar with the nonprofit’s operations.

According to  Propel Nonprofits , business plans usually should have four components that identify revenue sources/mix; operations costs; program costs; and capital structure.

A business plan outlines the expected income sources to support the charitable nonprofit's activities. What types of revenue will the nonprofit rely on to keep its engine running – how much will be earned, how much from government grants or contracts, how much will be contributed? Within each of those broad categories, how much diversification exists, and should they be further diversified? Are there certain factors that need to be in place in order for today’s income streams to continue flowing?

The plan should address the everyday costs needed to operate the organization, as well as costs of specific programs and activities.

The plan may include details about the need for the organization's services (a needs assessment), the likelihood that certain funding will be available (a feasibility study), or changes to the organization's technology or staffing that will be needed in the future.

Another aspect of a business plan could be a "competitive analysis" describing what other entities may be providing similar services in the nonprofit's service and mission areas. What are their sources of revenue and staffing structures? How do their services and capacities differ from those of your nonprofit?

Finally, the business plan should name important assumptions, such as the organization's reserve policies. Do your nonprofit’s policies require it to have at least six months of operating cash on hand? Do you have different types of cash reserves that require different levels of board approval to release?

The idea is to identify the known, and take into consideration the unknown, realities of the nonprofit's operations, and propose how the nonprofit will continue to be financially healthy.  If the underlying assumptions or current conditions change, then having a plan can be useful to help identify adjustments that must be made to respond to changes in the nonprofit's operating environment.

Basic format of a business plan

The format may vary depending on the audience. A business plan prepared for a bank to support a loan application may be different than a business plan that board members use as the basis for budgeting. Here is a typical outline of the format for a business plan:

  • Table of contents
  • Executive summary - Name the problem the nonprofit is trying to solve: its mission, and how it accomplishes its mission.
  • People: overview of the nonprofit’s board, staffing, and volunteer structure and who makes what happen
  • Market opportunities/competitive analysis
  • Programs and services: overview of implementation
  • Contingencies: what could change?
  • Financial health: what is the current status, and what are the sources of revenue to operate programs and advance the mission over time?
  • Assumptions and proposed changes: What needs to be in place for this nonprofit to continue on sound financial footing?

More About Business Planning

Budgeting for Nonprofits

Strategic Planning

Contact your state association of nonprofits  for support and resources related to business planning, strategic planning, and other fundamentals of nonprofit leadership. 

Additional Resources

  • Components of transforming nonprofit business models  (Propel Nonprofits)
  • The matrix map: a powerful tool for nonprofit sustainability  (Nonprofit Quarterly)
  • The Nonprofit Business Plan: A Leader's Guide to Creating a Successful Business Model  (David La Piana, Heather Gowdy, Lester Olmstead-Rose, and Brent Copen, Turner Publishing)
  • Nonprofit Earned Income: Critical Business Model Considerations for Nonprofits (Nonprofit Financial Commons)
  • Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability  (Jan Masaoka, Steve Zimmerman, and Jeanne Bell)

Disclaimer: Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is neither intended to be nor should be construed as legal, accounting, tax, investment, or financial advice. Please consult a professional (attorney, accountant, tax advisor) for the latest and most accurate information. The National Council of Nonprofits makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein.

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The best nonprofit business plan template

one page nonprofit business plan template

If you’re looking to start a new charity but don’t know where to start, a nonprofit business plan template can help. There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the US. While it’s awesome that there are so many charitable orgs, unfortunately, many of them struggle to keep their doors open.

Like any other business, a nonprofit needs to prepare for the unexpected. Even without a global pandemic, strategic planning is crucial for a nonprofit to succeed.

In this article, we’ll look at why a business plan is important for nonprofit organizations and what details to include in your business plan. To get you started, our versatile nonprofit business plan template is ready for you to download to turn your nonprofit dreams into a reality.

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What is a nonprofit business plan template?

A nonprofit business plan template is not that different from a regular, profit-oriented business plan template. It can even focus on financial gain — as long as it specifies how to use that excess for the greater good.

A nonprofit business plan template includes fields that cover the foundational elements of a business plan, including:

  • The overarching purpose of your nonprofit
  • Its long and short-term goals
  • An outline of how you’ll achieve these goals

The template also controls the general layout of the business plan, like recommended headings, sub-headings, and questions. But what’s the point? Let’s dive into the benefits a business plan template offers nonprofits.

Download Excel template

Why use a nonprofit business plan template?

To get your nonprofit business plans in motion, templates can:

Provide direction

If you’ve decided to start a nonprofit, you’re likely driven by passion and purpose. Although nonprofits are generally mission-driven, they’re still businesses. And that means you need to have a working business model. A template will give your ideas direction and encourage you to put your strategic thinking cap on.

Help you secure funding

One of the biggest reasons for writing a nonprofit business plan is to attract investment. After all, without enough funding , it’s nearly impossible to get your business off the ground. There’s simply no business without capital investment, and that’s even more true for nonprofits that rarely sell products.

Stakeholders and potential investors will need to assess the feasibility of your nonprofit business. You can encourage them to invest by presenting them with a well-written, well-thought-out business plan with all the necessary details — and a template lays the right foundation.

Facilitate clear messaging

One of the essential characteristics of any business plan — nonprofits included — is transparency around what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it. A nebulous statement with grandiose aspirations but no practical plan won’t inspire confidence.

Instead, you should create a clear and concise purpose statement that sums up your goals and planned action steps. A good template will help you maintain a strong purpose statement and use clear messaging throughout.

Of course, there are different types of nonprofit plan templates you can use, depending on the kind of business plan you want to draw up.

What are some examples of a nonprofit business plan template?

From summary nonprofit plans to all encompassing strategies, check out a few sample business plan templates for different nonprofit use cases.

Summary nonprofit business plan template

New nonprofit ventures in the early stages of development can use this business plan template. It’s created to put out feelers to see if investors are interested in your idea. For example, you may want to start an animal shelter in your community, but aren’t sure if it’s a viable option due to a lack of funds. You’d use a summary business plan template to gauge interest in your nonprofit.

Full nonprofit business plan template

In this scenario, you have already laid the foundations for your nonprofit. You’re now at a point where you need financing to get your nonprofit off the ground.

This template is much longer than a summary and includes all the sections of a nonprofit business plan including the:

Executive summary

  • Nonprofit description
  • Needs analysis
  • Product/service
  • Marketing strategy
  • Management team & board
  • Human resource needs

It also typically includes a variety of documents that back up your market research and financial situation.

Operational nonprofit business plan template

This type of business plan template is extremely detail-oriented and outlines your nonprofit’s daily operations. It acts as an in-depth guide for who does what, how they should do it, and when they should do it.

An operational nonprofit business plan is written for your internal team rather than external parties like investors or board members.

Convinced to give a business plan template a go? Lucky for you, our team has created the perfect option for nonprofits.’s nonprofit business plan template

At, we understand that starting a nonprofit business can feel overwhelming — scrambling to line up investors, arranging fundraising events, filing federal forms, and more. Because we want you and your nonprofit to succeed, we’ve created a customizable template to get you started. It’s right inside our Work OS , a digital platform that helps you effectively manage every aspect of your work — from budgets and high-level plans to individual to-do lists.

one page nonprofit business plan template

Here’s what you can do on our template:

Access all your documents from one central location

Besides a business plan, starting a nonprofit requires a lot of other documentation. Supporting documents include a cash flow statement or a general financial statement, resumes of founders, and letters of support.’s Work OS lets you store all these essential documents in one centralized location. That means you don’t need to open several tabs or run multiple programs to view your information. On, you can quickly and easily access documents and share them with potential investors and donors. Security features also help you control access to any board or document, only letting invited people or employees view or edit them. By keeping everything in one place, you save time on tracking down rogue files or statements and can focus on what really matters, such as running your nonprofit.

Turn your business plan into action

With’s nonprofit business plan template, you can seamlessly transform your plan into actionable tasks. After all, it’s going to take more than some sound strategic planning to bring your nonprofit to life.

one page nonprofit business plan template

Based on your business plan, you have the power to create interactive vision boards, calendars, timelines, cards, charts, and more. Because delegation is key, assign tasks to any of your team members from your main board. You can even set up notification automations so that everyone stays up to date with their responsibilities. Plus, to make sure the team stays on track, you can use the Progress Tracking Column that shows you the percent to completion of tasks based on the different status columns of your board.

Keep your finger on the pulse

From budgets to customer satisfaction, you need to maintain a high-level overview of your nonprofit’s key metrics. keeps you well-informed on the status of your nonprofit’s progress, all on one platform. With customizable dashboards — for example, a real-time overview of donations received and projects completed — and visually appealing views, you can make confident decisions on how to take your nonprofit business forward.

Now that you have the template, let’s cover each section and how to fill it out correctly.

Essential sections of a nonprofit business plan template

So what exactly goes into a nonprofit business plan? Let’s take a look at the different sections you’ll find in most templates.

This is a concise summary of your business at the beginning of your plan. It should be both inspired and to the point. The executive summary is typically two pages long and dedicates about two sentences to each section of the plan.

Organization overview

This section gives some background on your company and summarizes the goal of your business. At the same time, it should touch on other important factors like your action plan for attracting potential external stakeholders. You can think of an organization overview as a mission statement and company description rolled into one.

Products, programs, and services

Any business exists to provide products, programs, and services — perhaps with a focus on the latter two for nonprofits. Your business plan should outline what you are bringing to your community. This will influence your target market , potential investors, and marketing strategies.

Marketing plan

An effective marketing strategy is the cornerstone of any successful business. Your marketing plan will identify your target audience and how you plan to reach them. It deals with pricing structures while also assessing customer engagement levels.

Operational plan

The operational plan describes the steps a company will take over a certain period. It focuses on the day-to-day aspects of the business, like what tasks need to be done and who is responsible for what. The operational section of a business plan works closely with strategic planning.

Competitive analysis

Even nonprofits face competition from other nonprofits with similar business profiles. A market analysis looks at the strengths and weaknesses of competing businesses and where you fit in. This section should include a strategy to overtake competitors in the market. There are many formats and templates you can use here, for example, a SWOT analysis .

Financial plan

Your financial plan should be a holistic image of your company’s financial status and financial goals. As well as your fundraising plan , make sure to include details like cash flow, investments, insurance, debt, and savings.

Before we wrap up, we’ll address some commonly asked questions about nonprofit business plan templates.

FAQs about nonprofit business plan templates

How do you write a business plan for a nonprofit.

The best way to write a nonprofit business plan is with a template so that you don’t leave anything out. Our template has all the sections ready for you to fill in, combined with features of a cutting-edge Work OS.

For some extra tips, take a look at our advice on how to write a business plan . We’ve detailed the various elements involved in business planning processes and how these should be structured.

How many pages should a nonprofit business plan be?

Business plans don’t have to be excessively long. Remember that concise communication is optimal. As a rule of thumb — and this will vary depending on the complexity and size of your business plan — a nonprofit business plan is typically between seven and thirty pages long.

What is a nonprofit business plan called?

A nonprofit business plan is called just that — a ‘nonprofit business plan.’ You may think that its nonprofit element makes it very different from a profit-oriented plan. But it is essentially the same type of document.

What is the best business structure for a nonprofit?

The consensus is that a corporation is the most appropriate and effective structure for a nonprofit business.

How do you start a nonprofit with no money?

Creating a business plan and approaching potential investors, aka donators, is the best way to start a nonprofit business if you don’t have the funds yourself.

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How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan

Female entrepreneur speaking with an employee of a nonprofit at their computer. Chatting about planning for nonprofit donors.

Angelique O'Rourke

13 min. read

Updated May 10, 2024

Believe it or not, creating a business plan for a nonprofit organization is not that different from planning for a traditional business. 

Nonprofits sometimes shy away from using the words “business planning,” preferring to use terms like “strategic plan” or “operating plan.” But, the fact is that preparing a plan for a for-profit business and a nonprofit organization are actually pretty similar processes. Both types of organizations need to create forecasts for revenue and plan how they’re going to spend the money they bring in. They also need to manage their cash and ensure that they can stay solvent to accomplish their goals.

In this guide, I’ll explain how to create a plan for your organization that will impress your board of directors, facilitate fundraising, and ensures that you deliver on your mission.

  • Why does a nonprofit need a business plan?

Good business planning is about setting goals, getting everyone on the same page, tracking performance metrics, and improving over time. Even when your goal isn’t to increase profits, you still need to be able to run a fiscally healthy organization.

Business planning creates an opportunity to examine the heart of your mission , the financing you’ll need to bring that mission to fruition, and your plan to sustain your operations into the future.

Nonprofits are also responsible for meeting regularly with a board of directors and reporting on your organization’s finances is a critical part of that meeting. As part of your regular financial review with the board, you can compare your actual results to your financial forecast in your business plan. Are you meeting fundraising goals and keeping spending on track? Is the financial position of the organization where you wanted it to be?

In addition to internal use, a solid business plan can help you court major donors who will be interested in having a deeper understanding of how your organization works and your fiscal health and accountability. And you’ll definitely need a formal business plan if you intend to seek outside funding for capital expenses—it’s required by lenders.

Creating a business plan for your organization is a great way to get your management team or board to connect over your vision, goals, and trajectory. Even just going through the planning process with your colleagues will help you take a step back and get some high-level perspective .

  • A nonprofit business plan outline

Keep in mind that developing a business plan is an ongoing process. It isn’t about just writing a physical document that is static, but a continually evolving strategy and action plan as your organization progresses over time. It’s essential that you run regular plan review meetings to track your progress against your plan. For most nonprofits, this will coincide with regular reports and meetings with the board of directors.

A nonprofit business plan will include many of the same sections of a standard business plan outline . If you’d like to start simple, you can download our free business plan template as a Word document, and adjust it according to the nonprofit plan outline below.

Executive summary

The executive summary of a nonprofit business plan is typically the first section of the plan to be read, but the last to be written. That’s because this section is a general overview of everything else in the business plan – the overall snapshot of what your vision is for the organization.

Write it as though you might share with a prospective donor, or someone unfamiliar with your organization: avoid internal jargon or acronyms, and write it so that someone who has never heard of you would understand what you’re doing.

Your executive summary should provide a very brief overview of your organization’s mission. It should describe who you serve, how you provide the services that you offer, and how you fundraise. 

If you are putting together a plan to share with potential donors, you should include an overview of what you are asking for and how you intend to use the funds raised.

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Start this section of your nonprofit plan by describing the problem that you are solving for your clients or your community at large. Then say how your organization solves the problem.

A great way to present your opportunity is with a positioning statement . Here’s a formula you can use to define your positioning:

For [target market description] who [target market need], [this product] [how it meets the need]. Unlike [key competition], it [most important distinguishing feature].

And here’s an example of a positioning statement using the formula:

For children, ages five to 12 (target market) who are struggling with reading (their need), Tutors Changing Lives (your organization or program name) helps them get up to grade-level reading through a once a week class (your solution).

Unlike the school district’s general after-school homework lab (your state-funded competition), our program specifically helps children learn to read within six months (how you’re different).

Your organization is special or you wouldn’t spend so much time devoted to it. Layout some of the nuts and bolts about what makes it great in this opening section of your business plan. Your nonprofit probably changes lives, changes your community, or maybe even changes the world. Explain how it does this.

This is where you really go into detail about the programs you’re offering. You’ll want to describe how many people you serve and how you serve them.

Target audience

In a for-profit business plan, this section would be used to define your target market . For nonprofit organizations, it’s basically the same thing but framed as who you’re serving with your organization. Who benefits from your services?

Not all organizations have clients that they serve directly, so you might exclude this section if that’s the case. For example, an environmental preservation organization might have a goal of acquiring land to preserve natural habitats. The organization isn’t directly serving individual groups of people and is instead trying to benefit the environment as a whole. 

Similar organizations

Everyone has competition —nonprofits, too. You’re competing with other nonprofits for donor attention and support, and you’re competing with other organizations serving your target population. Even if your program is the only one in your area providing a specific service, you still have competition.

Think about what your prospective clients were doing about their problem (the one your organization is solving) before you came on this scene. If you’re running an after-school tutoring organization, you might be competing with after school sports programs for clients. Even though your organizations have fundamentally different missions.

For many nonprofit organizations, competing for funding is an important issue. You’ll want to use this section of your plan to explain who donors would choose your organization instead of similar organizations for their donations.

Future services and programs

If you’re running a regional nonprofit, do you want to be national in five years? If you’re currently serving children ages two to four, do you want to expand to ages five to 12? Use this section to talk about your long-term goals. 

Just like a traditional business, you’ll benefit by laying out a long-term plan. Not only does it help guide your nonprofit, but it also provides a roadmap for the board as well as potential investors. 

Promotion and outreach strategies

In a for-profit business plan, this section would be about marketing and sales strategies. For nonprofits, you’re going to talk about how you’re going to reach your target client population.

You’ll probably do some combination of:

  • Advertising: print and direct mail, television, radio, and so on.
  • Public relations: press releases, activities to promote brand awareness, and so on.
  • Digital marketing: website, email, blog, social media, and so on.

Similar to the “target audience” section above, you may remove this section if you don’t promote your organization to clients and others who use your services.

Costs and fees

Instead of including a pricing section, a nonprofit business plan should include a costs or fees section.

Talk about how your program is funded, and whether the costs your clients pay are the same for everyone, or based on income level, or something else. If your clients pay less for your service than it costs to run the program, how will you make up the difference?

If you don’t charge for your services and programs, you can state that here or remove this section.

Fundraising sources

Fundraising is critical for most nonprofit organizations. This portion of your business plan will detail who your key fundraising sources are. 

Similar to understanding who your target audience for your services is, you’ll also want to know who your target market is for fundraising. Who are your supporters? What kind of person donates to your organization? Creating a “donor persona” could be a useful exercise to help you reflect on this subject and streamline your fundraising approach. 

You’ll also want to define different tiers of prospective donors and how you plan on connecting with them. You’re probably going to include information about your annual giving program (usually lower-tier donors) and your major gifts program (folks who give larger amounts).

If you’re a private school, for example, you might think of your main target market as alumni who graduated during a certain year, at a certain income level. If you’re building a bequest program to build your endowment, your target market might be a specific population with interest in your cause who is at retirement age.

Do some research. The key here is not to report your target donors as everyone in a 3,000-mile radius with a wallet. The more specific you can be about your prospective donors —their demographics, income level, and interests, the more targeted (and less costly) your outreach can be.

Fundraising activities

How will you reach your donors with your message? Use this section of your business plan to explain how you will market your organization to potential donors and generate revenue.

You might use a combination of direct mail, advertising, and fundraising events. Detail the key activities and programs that you’ll use to reach your donors and raise money.

Strategic alliances and partnerships

Use this section to talk about how you’ll work with other organizations. Maybe you need to use a room in the local public library to run your program for the first year. Maybe your organization provides mental health counselors in local schools, so you partner with your school district.

In some instances, you might also be relying on public health programs like Medicaid to fund your program costs. Mention all those strategic partnerships here, especially if your program would have trouble existing without the partnership.

Milestones and metrics

Without milestones and metrics for your nonprofit, it will be more difficult to execute on your mission. Milestones and metrics are guideposts along the way that are indicators that your program is working and that your organization is healthy.

They might include elements of your fundraising goals—like monthly or quarterly donation goals, or it might be more about your participation metrics. Since most nonprofits working with foundations for grants do complex reporting on some of these, don’t feel like you have to re-write every single goal and metric for your organization here. Think about your bigger goals, and if you need to, include more information in your business plan’s appendix.

If you’re revisiting your plan on a monthly basis, and we recommend that you do, the items here might speak directly to the questions you know your board will ask in your monthly trustee meeting. The point is to avoid surprises by having eyes on your organization’s performance. Having these goals, and being able to change course if you’re not meeting them, will help your organization avoid falling into a budget deficit.

Key assumptions and risks

Your nonprofit exists to serve a particular population or cause. Before you designed your key programs or services, you probably did some research to validate that there’s a need for what you’re offering.

But you probably are also taking some calculated risks. In this section, talk about the unknowns for your organization. If you name them, you can address them.

For example, if you think there’s a need for a children’s literacy program, maybe you surveyed teachers or parents in your area to verify the need. But because you haven’t launched the program yet, one of your unknowns might be whether the kids will actually show up.

Management team and company

Who is going to be involved and what are their duties? What do these individuals bring to the table?

Include both the management team of the day-to-day aspects of your nonprofit as well as board members and mention those who may overlap between the two roles. Highlight their qualifications: titles, degrees, relevant past accomplishments, and designated responsibilities should be included in this section. It adds a personal touch to mention team members who are especially qualified because they’re close to the cause or have special first-hand experience with or knowledge of the population you’re serving.

There are probably some amazing, dedicated people with stellar qualifications on your team—this is the place to feature them (and don’t forget to include yourself!).

Financial plan

The financial plan is essential to any organization that’s seeking funding, but also incredibly useful internally to keep track of what you’ve done so far financially and where you’d like to see the organization go in the future.

The financial section of your business plan should include a long-term budget and cash flow statement with a three to five-year forecast. This will allow you to see that the organization has its basic financial needs covered. Any nonprofit has its standard level of funding required to stay operational, so it’s essential to make sure your organization will consistently maintain at least that much in the coffers.

From that point, it’s all about future planning: If you exceed your fundraising goals, what will be done with the surplus? What will you do if you don’t meet your fundraising goals? Are you accounting for appropriate amounts going to payroll and administrative costs over time? Thinking through a forecast of your financial plan over the next several years will help ensure that your organization is sustainable.

Money management skills are just as important in a nonprofit as they are in a for-profit business. Knowing the financial details of your organization is incredibly important in a world where the public is ranking the credibility of charities based on what percentage of donations makes it to the programs and services. As a nonprofit, people are interested in the details of how money is being dispersed within organizations, with this information often being posted online on sites like Charity Navigator, so the public can make informed decisions about donating.

Potential contributors will do their research—so make sure you do too. No matter who your donors are, they will want to know they can trust your organization with their money. A robust financial plan is a solid foundation for reference that your nonprofit is on the right track.

  • Business planning is ongoing

It’s important to remember that a business plan doesn’t have to be set in stone. It acts as a roadmap, something that you can come back to as a guide, then revise and edit to suit your purpose at a given time.

I recommend that you review your financial plan once a month to see if your organization is on track, and then revise your plan as necessary .

Content Author: Angelique O'Rourke

Angelique is a skilled writer, editor, and social media specialist, as well as an actor and model with a demonstrated history of theater, film, commercial and print work.

Check out LivePlan

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Leveraging A Nonprofit Business Plan Template Helps Boards Better Map Out Finance And Fundraising Models

  • January 20, 2020

Nonprofit Business Plan Template

  • --> Written by Lena Eisenstein

As technology helps nonprofit organizations to streamline processes, it calls many of the longstanding processes into question. Large donors will almost always ask nonprofits for a copy of their business plan because they want to know what nonprofits are doing and how they plan to accomplish their goals. That’s really not a lot to expect from an organization that’s interested in supporting your cause.

This is an important reason for board directors to take their business plan seriously and not just dismiss it as an outdated process that takes up valuable board time. The business plan outlines who you are, what you do, where you do it and how your organization makes a positive impact. A nonprofit business plan also includes your goals and your action plan for achieving them. Nonprofit boards should consider it a living document and update it frequently.

It’s helpful to begin with a nonprofit business plan template, but there’s no set length for the number of pages that a business plan should be. Keep it as concise as possible while making it long enough to include all the information your donors want to know.

Following is a sample of a nonprofit business plan template:

Name of Nonprofit:

Primary Contact:

Physical Address:

Mailing Address:

Telephone Number:

Website URL:

Email Address:

Table of Contents (include page numbers)

Executive Summary

Your executive summary page should come immediately after your table of contents. It should include a short description of your mission and vision. It should tell a bit about the nonprofit’s history and how your nonprofit meets the needs of the community. Write the summary in a tone and voice that captures your reader’s attention and motivates them to keep reading.

Products, Programs and Services

Use this section to highlight the products and/or services that your nonprofit offers. You may choose to add a short description of the programs you currently offer and the ones you hope to offer in the future. This is a great place to add some illustrations or photos of your nonprofit in action to give it a personal feel and help your donations feel connected to it. Expand on it by describing the positive impact that your program makes. Make a deeper impact by adding details about how your fund programs and the benefits they provide.

Marketing Plan

Your nonprofit may have an extensive marketing plan. You don’t have to include the entire marketing plan in your business plan , but include a brief version of it here. Add these four sections to your marketing plan description: marketing research, constituency, competitors and collaborators, and strategy.

This is the place to explain your niche. Include research that’s been published by others as well as any research that your own organization has done. Identify your target population or beneficiaries, including their characteristics, needs and locations. Outline the demographics of those you serve by including details about age, gender, location, income, occupation, education and any other important details. Add information about how your organization improves the lives of these individuals. Include some details about who your organization’s competitors and collaborators are. Make your nonprofit stand out, as donors may have been asked to support your competitors as well. Include information that describes your promotions, advertising, budgeting and marketing methods at various growth stages. You might decide to include details of some of your more successful marketing campaigns.

Operational Plan

In this section, describe what your nonprofit looks like on a daily basis. Paint a picture of your employees, processes, locations, etc. Describe where your employees work. Outline your governing and leadership structure, including the board, consultants and advisors. List your permits, licenses, insurance coverage, trademarks, patents and copyrights. Add a section that describes your staff, along with their roles and responsibilities. Include the number of employees, type of employees, pay structure, and whether you use contractors or freelancers. Explain whether you will need to hire new staff and when you’re projected to start hiring.

Impact Plan

Describe your nonprofit’s plan to achieve your mission and vision. This is the place to talk about your goals in a meaningful way and relate them to the kind of change your organization hopes to make. Donors will also be interested in knowing how you plan to measure the impact of your efforts.

Financial Plan

Your donors are aware that it will be difficult to manage your finances without a financial plan. They’re not looking for a guarantee here They just want to know that you do have a plan. This is the place to include a summary of your past financial picture and what you hope that your future financial picture will be. Add reports such as cash flow statements, balance sheets, income statements and your budget. Include a list of your revenue streams, including partners, sponsors, donors, grants, subscriptions, membership fees and fundraising events. In addition, be sure to list your nonprofit’s debts and income, including bonds, holdings and endowments.

Include what you believe to be some of the most important documents that you think your donors may be interested in. Don’t overdo it by adding every document you can find. The types of documents you might add to your appendix include:

  • Resumes of key staff
  • Board member lists
  • Promotional flyers
  • Strategic plan
  • Mission and vision statements
  • A copy of your annual report
  • Letters of endorsement
  • Copies of market research
  • Diagrams of operational or financial structures
  • Current fiscal year budget
  • List of the board of directors
  • A copy of your IRS status letter
  • Balance sheets
  • Organizational flow chart

If you’re using a BoardEffect board management system, all of these documents will be easily searchable by doing a simple search.

A nonprofit business plan will help you to better understand your beneficiaries, partners and other stakeholders. Writing your business plan will also help boards to assess the feasibility of their fundraising and finance models.

In the process, you may discover research that helps to uncover new opportunities and helps you to attract new board directors and volunteers, and that is a worthwhile benefit in itself.


Learn why 180k+ users are using BoardEffect for their board portal solution!

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Nonprofit Business Plan

one page nonprofit business plan template

Business plans  are the foundation of nonprofit organizations. Without it, nonprofit organizations would not really prosper and serve their ultimate purpose since they will have a hard time obtaining support from external donors. Simply put, a business plan for non-profit organizations  describes the company, recognizes and addresses gaps, and creates a course of action for the organization over the next few years. The process of designing a business plan alone helps you to understand your organization better, which, in turn, will contribute to its further development. So how do you formulate a substantial business plan? Scroll down below to check out our examples.

10+ Nonprofit Business Plan Examples

1. general nonprofit business plan template.

General Nonprofit Business Plan Template

  • Google Docs

Size: US Letter, A4 + Bleed

2. Contemporary Business Plan

Contemporary Business Plan

Size: 483.9 KB

3. Formal Nonprofit Business Plan

Formal Nonprofit Business Plan

Size: 807.5 KB

4. Infographic Business Plan

Infographic Business Plan Example

5. Mary Robinson Foundation Business Plan for Climate Justice

Mary Robinson Foundation Business Plan for Climate Justice

Size: 323.7 KB

6. Modern Nonprofit Business Plan

Modern Business Plan

Size: 876.1 KB

7. New Events and Opportunities Nonprofit Business Plan

New Events and Opportunities Nonprofit Business Plan

Size: 2.1 MB

8. Nonprofit Business Plan for Harvest of Hope

Nonprofit Business Plan for Harvest of Hope

Size: 363.6 KB

9. Nonprofit Business Plan for Orphanages

Nonprofit Business Plan for Orphanages

Size: 2.6 MB

10. Nonprofit Business Plan Sample with Guide

Nonprofit Business Plan Sample with Guide

Size: 1.3 MB

11. Short Nonprofit Business Plan Example

Short Nonprofit Business Plan Example

Size: 180.8 KB

What Is a Non-Profit Business Plan?

Are you aware that 25% of small businesses begin operations without any financing whatsoever? It takes a leap of faith to get started in that manner, but many more businesses and organizations do have to come up with a plan for their own good. If you’re aware of what a company business plan  is and what it’s for, then it won’t take long for you to guess what the non-profit business plan is. This document serves as the culmination of your research, the epitome of your will, and the written word of your message. Even a non-profit organization business needs this not just for guidance, but to get the right loans, donors, and grants needed.

How to Create a Non-Profit Business Plan

If downloading a one-page non-profit business plan template isn’t in the cards, then you’ll have to create your own. Coming up with a non-profit blueprint does not have to be overly complicated. Whether it is a non-profit housing business plan or a non-profit ministry business plan, the steps below are sure to be of use.

Step 1: Specify Your Organization’s Goals

The key to any plan, especially something like a non-profit strategic plan , is to be clear with one’s goals. Take this opportunity to spell out what you intend to achieve through your organization.

Step 2: Articulate Your Mission Statement and Core Values

For the next step, explain what your non-profit mission statement is, along with the core values that you intend to follow. What you come up with does not have to be overly long or complex. Take for example the mission statement of UNICEF, which is only three hundred words long.

Step 3: Continue With the Outline

For the third step, this is the part where you push through with your written outline. What this comprises of will include parts of the plan that you have yet to discuss or divulge. This may involve sections like how you want to go about with your human resources , the budget that your organization will need, as well as any marketing efforts that you will have to put in. This is important because it can serve as your roadmap of sorts. There’s no need to go too much into detail here since many of the specifics will be explored later on.

Step 4: Talk About Your Services, Products, or Programs

This is the part where you describe in detail what your non-profit organization actually does. Talk about the specific services that you want to make available to others, the programs you want to start, and the products that you plan on offering. In this step, you may get into your  product marketing  for a bit, because it can tie into the next step.

Step 5: Work on Your Marketing, Operations, and Financial Plans

For the penultimate step, you must brush up on what your  marketing plan  is, along with your organization’s financial and operational plans . All will play a significant role in your non-profit going forward, so it pays to keep close attention to detail to each one. The specifics of these plans may change over time, as your organization evolves.

Step 6: Wrap Up With the Appendix

The last part is often reserved for the appendix where you can cite helpful information that may not otherwise have a suitable spot on the plan. Among the information you may put here includes your organizational flow chart , the list of your company’s board of directions, the balance sheets, and others.

What are examples of non-profit businesses?

Prime examples are churches, national charities, and foundations. Universities and hospitals also count, but only in select cases.

How much does it cost to start a non-profit?

Since a non-profit organization often operates as a business would, you need to consider where your capital comes from. Create a non-profit layout so you can map out how that capital will be spent and on what. There won’t be any set amount; instead, determine it according to your plans for the organization. If you are set on finding out specific costs, take note that you will still have to apply to the IRS for non-profit status. Once you do that, you’ll have to spend on forms like Form 1023, which costs $750. Those with projected revenue under $40,000 will see that fee reduced to a mere $400.

Is it possible to make money with a non-profit business?

Those who start non-profit businesses aren’t allowed or entitled to any profit from their organization’s net earnings. However, there are still other ways to make money, both for the individual and the company. For the latter, income can come from somebody’s fundraiser budget and corporate sponsorship.

Let it be said that plans are what makes amazing things happen, regardless if you get profit out of it or not. Like learning how to create a  non-profit proposal , coming with a non-profit business plan is one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your organization. Download a template or create your own; what matters is that you get your plans done right. So don’t waste another moment and browse through our collection of templates right now!


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Develop a project timeline for a middle school science fair.

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05. Write an Effective One-Page Nonprofit Business Plan in Less Than an Hour

A business plan is just as important for a nonprofit organization as it is for any for-profit-making company. 

Not only will your business plan guide your growth, but you’ll also quickly discover that investors, donors, and board members will ask to see copies of your business plan, and if you don’t have one, you could miss out on great opportunities.

Your business plan describes your nonprofit as it currently exists and sets up a road map for the next three to five years.

It lays out your goals, challenges, and plans for meeting those goals.

It’s a living document that should be updated frequently as your nonprofit expands.

When starting your nonprofit, it’s best to keep things simple and concise so you can move quickly and get things done.  

Many organizations have difficulty building their business plan, as parts of the nonprofit world are known for strategic planning processes that can be brain-numbingly complex and ineffective.

They can also be time-consuming and expensive, providing little to no return on investment for both donors and the organization itself.  

But, what if you captured your nonprofit business plan on just one piece of paper?

Imagine one simple document that was easy to understand, easy to communicate, and actionable.

The key to planning – and executing – is simplicity. And the key to simplicity is focus.

Enter Jim Horan, the author of the book “ The One Page Nonprofit Business Plan for Nonprofit Organizations”.

Horan’s book links vision to strategy, strategy to execution, and execution to results.

Its focus on simple strategic planning also forces a team to focus and prioritize, greasing the wheels of implementation.

To give you an idea of Jim Horan and his approach, here’s an excerpt from the book:

“ If your nonprofit is struggling with its planning process…it is highly likely you have made too big of a project out of it…instead of documenting everything you know about your organization and all the decisions have already been made…get focused on the issues and opportunities that have the potential to move your organization forward…and monitor progress and results religiously.”  .  

With the One Page Nonprofit Business Plan , you can say goodbye to complex language and processes and easily write a draft plan on a single page in less than two hours.

Not only is it fast, but this plan is also widely recognized for using relevant, actionable terms and language that help your board of directors, management, staff and volunteers clearly define and execute on their goals throughout multiple levels of the organization.

What is the One Page Nonprofit Business Plan?

The One Page Nonprofit Business Plan is an innovative approach to business planning that captures the essence of any organization, project, or program on a single page using keywords and short phrases.

Most nonprofits use this process to create not only the organization’s overall plan, but to create a plan for each supporting department, project, and program.

The flexible methodology and standard format make it simple for managers and teams to each have a plan and be able to review and understand each other’s plans.

The One Page Nonprofit Business Plan works because:

  • Plans  get documented
  • Plans are understandable
  • Plans are easy to write and update
  • Every manager and team member is working from the same playbook

This process creates:

  • Accountability

There are many ways to use a One Page Nonprofit Business Plan

One of the biggest advantages of this plan is that it can be used effectively for multiple things, so you can use one effective resource to plan the priorities of your entire nonprofit organization.

Here are a few examples:

  • Complete plan for small nonprofits and an executive summary for large organizations
  • Project and program development
  • Framework for compensation systems
  • Fund development
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Strategic alliance development
  • Initial draft for new programs
  • Proforma for mergers and acquisitions
  • Framework for potential expansion
  • Clear structure for measuring outcomes
  • Benchmark to measure progress against priorities
  • Improve cross-functional communication

Take advantage of clear, actionable business terminology

You may have noticed that depending on where you’re from, what companies or organizations you’ve worked for, or maybe even what school you went to that you have a certain business terminology, which may not be the same as other people’s.

To test this, Google the terms vision, mission, objectives, strategies, or business plans and see what you get back.

It’s likely you’ll have an entire slew of opinions as to what these all mean.

The varied definitions and ideas on how to go about creating them inevitably create conflict, confusion and barriers to even getting started on your business plan let along executing on it.

The One Page Nonprofit Business Plan solves this problem by translating these standard business plan elements into simple and universal questions:

  • Vision – What are you building?
  • Mission – Why does this nonprofit exist?
  • Objectives – What results will you measure?
  • Strategies – How will you build this nonprofit?
  • Plans -What is the work to be done?

This simplification takes the guesswork out and allows your teams to create clear, concise plans that they can execute on.

Simply put, a One Page Nonprofit Business Plan is an incredibly effective tool for teams and organizations to achieve results, because it can help rally donors, staff and other stakeholders around the organization’s core values and initiatives.

Thousands of nonprofits have successfully written and implemented One Page Plans with this simple and effective planning methodology.

If you haven't already, make sure to download your One Page Nonprofit Business Plan template here. 

Also, if you're ready to start your nonprofit and you'd like everything done for you so you don't have to worry about any paperwork and details,  then check out our done-for-you 501(c)3 nonprofit service.   

Or, if you you're ready to get started, but you have a few questions, the please  book a free strategy session here .  

-Jacquelyn Long, How to write a One Page Nonprofit Business Plan, InstantNonprofit

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I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post.

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Free One Page Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Free One Page Nonprofit Business Plan Template in Word, Google Docs, PDF, Apple Pages

Free Download this One Page Nonprofit Business Plan Template Design in Word, Google Docs, PDF, Apple Pages Format. Easily Editable, Printable, Downloadable.

Outline important aspects—Service, Target Market, Competition, and Plan Details—of your Organization with's One Page Nonprofit Business Plan Template. Our High-Quality Template was Created by Industry Experts to ensure that prospective funders are persuaded to donate to your cause. Edit the Document's Elements in our Free Online Editor Tool, and Download it in your Preferred Format. Print Physical Copies or Share it via Email with Prospective Donors and your Members.

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Human Subjects Office

Medical terms in lay language.

Please use these descriptions in place of medical jargon in consent documents, recruitment materials and other study documents. Note: These terms are not the only acceptable plain language alternatives for these vocabulary words.

This glossary of terms is derived from a list copyrighted by the University of Kentucky, Office of Research Integrity (1990).

For clinical research-specific definitions, see also the Clinical Research Glossary developed by the Multi-Regional Clinical Trials (MRCT) Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard  and the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) .

Alternative Lay Language for Medical Terms for use in Informed Consent Documents

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I  J  K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W  X  Y  Z

ABDOMEN/ABDOMINAL body cavity below diaphragm that contains stomach, intestines, liver and other organs ABSORB take up fluids, take in ACIDOSIS condition when blood contains more acid than normal ACUITY clearness, keenness, esp. of vision and airways ACUTE new, recent, sudden, urgent ADENOPATHY swollen lymph nodes (glands) ADJUVANT helpful, assisting, aiding, supportive ADJUVANT TREATMENT added treatment (usually to a standard treatment) ANTIBIOTIC drug that kills bacteria and other germs ANTIMICROBIAL drug that kills bacteria and other germs ANTIRETROVIRAL drug that works against the growth of certain viruses ADVERSE EFFECT side effect, bad reaction, unwanted response ALLERGIC REACTION rash, hives, swelling, trouble breathing AMBULATE/AMBULATION/AMBULATORY walk, able to walk ANAPHYLAXIS serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction ANEMIA decreased red blood cells; low red cell blood count ANESTHETIC a drug or agent used to decrease the feeling of pain, or eliminate the feeling of pain by putting you to sleep ANGINA pain resulting from not enough blood flowing to the heart ANGINA PECTORIS pain resulting from not enough blood flowing to the heart ANOREXIA disorder in which person will not eat; lack of appetite ANTECUBITAL related to the inner side of the forearm ANTIBODY protein made in the body in response to foreign substance ANTICONVULSANT drug used to prevent seizures ANTILIPEMIC a drug that lowers fat levels in the blood ANTITUSSIVE a drug used to relieve coughing ARRHYTHMIA abnormal heartbeat; any change from the normal heartbeat ASPIRATION fluid entering the lungs, such as after vomiting ASSAY lab test ASSESS to learn about, measure, evaluate, look at ASTHMA lung disease associated with tightening of air passages, making breathing difficult ASYMPTOMATIC without symptoms AXILLA armpit

BENIGN not malignant, without serious consequences BID twice a day BINDING/BOUND carried by, to make stick together, transported BIOAVAILABILITY the extent to which a drug or other substance becomes available to the body BLOOD PROFILE series of blood tests BOLUS a large amount given all at once BONE MASS the amount of calcium and other minerals in a given amount of bone BRADYARRHYTHMIAS slow, irregular heartbeats BRADYCARDIA slow heartbeat BRONCHOSPASM breathing distress caused by narrowing of the airways

CARCINOGENIC cancer-causing CARCINOMA type of cancer CARDIAC related to the heart CARDIOVERSION return to normal heartbeat by electric shock CATHETER a tube for withdrawing or giving fluids CATHETER a tube placed near the spinal cord and used for anesthesia (indwelling epidural) during surgery CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS) brain and spinal cord CEREBRAL TRAUMA damage to the brain CESSATION stopping CHD coronary heart disease CHEMOTHERAPY treatment of disease, usually cancer, by chemical agents CHRONIC continuing for a long time, ongoing CLINICAL pertaining to medical care CLINICAL TRIAL an experiment involving human subjects COMA unconscious state COMPLETE RESPONSE total disappearance of disease CONGENITAL present before birth CONJUNCTIVITIS redness and irritation of the thin membrane that covers the eye CONSOLIDATION PHASE treatment phase intended to make a remission permanent (follows induction phase) CONTROLLED TRIAL research study in which the experimental treatment or procedure is compared to a standard (control) treatment or procedure COOPERATIVE GROUP association of multiple institutions to perform clinical trials CORONARY related to the blood vessels that supply the heart, or to the heart itself CT SCAN (CAT) computerized series of x-rays (computerized tomography) CULTURE test for infection, or for organisms that could cause infection CUMULATIVE added together from the beginning CUTANEOUS relating to the skin CVA stroke (cerebrovascular accident)

DERMATOLOGIC pertaining to the skin DIASTOLIC lower number in a blood pressure reading DISTAL toward the end, away from the center of the body DIURETIC "water pill" or drug that causes increase in urination DOPPLER device using sound waves to diagnose or test DOUBLE BLIND study in which neither investigators nor subjects know what drug or treatment the subject is receiving DYSFUNCTION state of improper function DYSPLASIA abnormal cells

ECHOCARDIOGRAM sound wave test of the heart EDEMA excess fluid collecting in tissue EEG electric brain wave tracing (electroencephalogram) EFFICACY effectiveness ELECTROCARDIOGRAM electrical tracing of the heartbeat (ECG or EKG) ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE an imbalance of minerals in the blood EMESIS vomiting EMPIRIC based on experience ENDOSCOPIC EXAMINATION viewing an  internal part of the body with a lighted tube  ENTERAL by way of the intestines EPIDURAL outside the spinal cord ERADICATE get rid of (such as disease) Page 2 of 7 EVALUATED, ASSESSED examined for a medical condition EXPEDITED REVIEW rapid review of a protocol by the IRB Chair without full committee approval, permitted with certain low-risk research studies EXTERNAL outside the body EXTRAVASATE to leak outside of a planned area, such as out of a blood vessel

FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the branch of federal government that approves new drugs FIBROUS having many fibers, such as scar tissue FIBRILLATION irregular beat of the heart or other muscle

GENERAL ANESTHESIA pain prevention by giving drugs to cause loss of consciousness, as during surgery GESTATIONAL pertaining to pregnancy

HEMATOCRIT amount of red blood cells in the blood HEMATOMA a bruise, a black and blue mark HEMODYNAMIC MEASURING blood flow HEMOLYSIS breakdown in red blood cells HEPARIN LOCK needle placed in the arm with blood thinner to keep the blood from clotting HEPATOMA cancer or tumor of the liver HERITABLE DISEASE can be transmitted to one’s offspring, resulting in damage to future children HISTOPATHOLOGIC pertaining to the disease status of body tissues or cells HOLTER MONITOR a portable machine for recording heart beats HYPERCALCEMIA high blood calcium level HYPERKALEMIA high blood potassium level HYPERNATREMIA high blood sodium level HYPERTENSION high blood pressure HYPOCALCEMIA low blood calcium level HYPOKALEMIA low blood potassium level HYPONATREMIA low blood sodium level HYPOTENSION low blood pressure HYPOXEMIA a decrease of oxygen in the blood HYPOXIA a decrease of oxygen reaching body tissues HYSTERECTOMY surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries (female sex glands), or both uterus and ovaries

IATROGENIC caused by a physician or by treatment IDE investigational device exemption, the license to test an unapproved new medical device IDIOPATHIC of unknown cause IMMUNITY defense against, protection from IMMUNOGLOBIN a protein that makes antibodies IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE drug which works against the body's immune (protective) response, often used in transplantation and diseases caused by immune system malfunction IMMUNOTHERAPY giving of drugs to help the body's immune (protective) system; usually used to destroy cancer cells IMPAIRED FUNCTION abnormal function IMPLANTED placed in the body IND investigational new drug, the license to test an unapproved new drug INDUCTION PHASE beginning phase or stage of a treatment INDURATION hardening INDWELLING remaining in a given location, such as a catheter INFARCT death of tissue due to lack of blood supply INFECTIOUS DISEASE transmitted from one person to the next INFLAMMATION swelling that is generally painful, red, and warm INFUSION slow injection of a substance into the body, usually into the blood by means of a catheter INGESTION eating; taking by mouth INTERFERON drug which acts against viruses; antiviral agent INTERMITTENT occurring (regularly or irregularly) between two time points; repeatedly stopping, then starting again INTERNAL within the body INTERIOR inside of the body INTRAMUSCULAR into the muscle; within the muscle INTRAPERITONEAL into the abdominal cavity INTRATHECAL into the spinal fluid INTRAVENOUS (IV) through the vein INTRAVESICAL in the bladder INTUBATE the placement of a tube into the airway INVASIVE PROCEDURE puncturing, opening, or cutting the skin INVESTIGATIONAL NEW DRUG (IND) a new drug that has not been approved by the FDA INVESTIGATIONAL METHOD a treatment method which has not been proven to be beneficial or has not been accepted as standard care ISCHEMIA decreased oxygen in a tissue (usually because of decreased blood flow)

LAPAROTOMY surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the abdominal wall to enable a doctor to look at the organs inside LESION wound or injury; a diseased patch of skin LETHARGY sleepiness, tiredness LEUKOPENIA low white blood cell count LIPID fat LIPID CONTENT fat content in the blood LIPID PROFILE (PANEL) fat and cholesterol levels in the blood LOCAL ANESTHESIA creation of insensitivity to pain in a small, local area of the body, usually by injection of numbing drugs LOCALIZED restricted to one area, limited to one area LUMEN the cavity of an organ or tube (e.g., blood vessel) LYMPHANGIOGRAPHY an x-ray of the lymph nodes or tissues after injecting dye into lymph vessels (e.g., in feet) LYMPHOCYTE a type of white blood cell important in immunity (protection) against infection LYMPHOMA a cancer of the lymph nodes (or tissues)

MALAISE a vague feeling of bodily discomfort, feeling badly MALFUNCTION condition in which something is not functioning properly MALIGNANCY cancer or other progressively enlarging and spreading tumor, usually fatal if not successfully treated MEDULLABLASTOMA a type of brain tumor MEGALOBLASTOSIS change in red blood cells METABOLIZE process of breaking down substances in the cells to obtain energy METASTASIS spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another METRONIDAZOLE drug used to treat infections caused by parasites (invading organisms that take up living in the body) or other causes of anaerobic infection (not requiring oxygen to survive) MI myocardial infarction, heart attack MINIMAL slight MINIMIZE reduce as much as possible Page 4 of 7 MONITOR check on; keep track of; watch carefully MOBILITY ease of movement MORBIDITY undesired result or complication MORTALITY death MOTILITY the ability to move MRI magnetic resonance imaging, diagnostic pictures of the inside of the body, created using magnetic rather than x-ray energy MUCOSA, MUCOUS MEMBRANE moist lining of digestive, respiratory, reproductive, and urinary tracts MYALGIA muscle aches MYOCARDIAL pertaining to the heart muscle MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION heart attack

NASOGASTRIC TUBE placed in the nose, reaching to the stomach NCI the National Cancer Institute NECROSIS death of tissue NEOPLASIA/NEOPLASM tumor, may be benign or malignant NEUROBLASTOMA a cancer of nerve tissue NEUROLOGICAL pertaining to the nervous system NEUTROPENIA decrease in the main part of the white blood cells NIH the National Institutes of Health NONINVASIVE not breaking, cutting, or entering the skin NOSOCOMIAL acquired in the hospital

OCCLUSION closing; blockage; obstruction ONCOLOGY the study of tumors or cancer OPHTHALMIC pertaining to the eye OPTIMAL best, most favorable or desirable ORAL ADMINISTRATION by mouth ORTHOPEDIC pertaining to the bones OSTEOPETROSIS rare bone disorder characterized by dense bone OSTEOPOROSIS softening of the bones OVARIES female sex glands

PARENTERAL given by injection PATENCY condition of being open PATHOGENESIS development of a disease or unhealthy condition PERCUTANEOUS through the skin PERIPHERAL not central PER OS (PO) by mouth PHARMACOKINETICS the study of the way the body absorbs, distributes, and gets rid of a drug PHASE I first phase of study of a new drug in humans to determine action, safety, and proper dosing PHASE II second phase of study of a new drug in humans, intended to gather information about safety and effectiveness of the drug for certain uses PHASE III large-scale studies to confirm and expand information on safety and effectiveness of new drug for certain uses, and to study common side effects PHASE IV studies done after the drug is approved by the FDA, especially to compare it to standard care or to try it for new uses PHLEBITIS irritation or inflammation of the vein PLACEBO an inactive substance; a pill/liquid that contains no medicine PLACEBO EFFECT improvement seen with giving subjects a placebo, though it contains no active drug/treatment PLATELETS small particles in the blood that help with clotting POTENTIAL possible POTENTIATE increase or multiply the effect of a drug or toxin (poison) by giving another drug or toxin at the same time (sometimes an unintentional result) POTENTIATOR an agent that helps another agent work better PRENATAL before birth PROPHYLAXIS a drug given to prevent disease or infection PER OS (PO) by mouth PRN as needed PROGNOSIS outlook, probable outcomes PRONE lying on the stomach PROSPECTIVE STUDY following patients forward in time PROSTHESIS artificial part, most often limbs, such as arms or legs PROTOCOL plan of study PROXIMAL closer to the center of the body, away from the end PULMONARY pertaining to the lungs

QD every day; daily QID four times a day

RADIATION THERAPY x-ray or cobalt treatment RANDOM by chance (like the flip of a coin) RANDOMIZATION chance selection RBC red blood cell RECOMBINANT formation of new combinations of genes RECONSTITUTION putting back together the original parts or elements RECUR happen again REFRACTORY not responding to treatment REGENERATION re-growth of a structure or of lost tissue REGIMEN pattern of giving treatment RELAPSE the return of a disease REMISSION disappearance of evidence of cancer or other disease RENAL pertaining to the kidneys REPLICABLE possible to duplicate RESECT remove or cut out surgically RETROSPECTIVE STUDY looking back over past experience

SARCOMA a type of cancer SEDATIVE a drug to calm or make less anxious SEMINOMA a type of testicular cancer (found in the male sex glands) SEQUENTIALLY in a row, in order SOMNOLENCE sleepiness SPIROMETER an instrument to measure the amount of air taken into and exhaled from the lungs STAGING an evaluation of the extent of the disease STANDARD OF CARE a treatment plan that the majority of the medical community would accept as appropriate STENOSIS narrowing of a duct, tube, or one of the blood vessels in the heart STOMATITIS mouth sores, inflammation of the mouth STRATIFY arrange in groups for analysis of results (e.g., stratify by age, sex, etc.) STUPOR stunned state in which it is difficult to get a response or the attention of the subject SUBCLAVIAN under the collarbone SUBCUTANEOUS under the skin SUPINE lying on the back SUPPORTIVE CARE general medical care aimed at symptoms, not intended to improve or cure underlying disease SYMPTOMATIC having symptoms SYNDROME a condition characterized by a set of symptoms SYSTOLIC top number in blood pressure; pressure during active contraction of the heart

TERATOGENIC capable of causing malformations in a fetus (developing baby still inside the mother’s body) TESTES/TESTICLES male sex glands THROMBOSIS clotting THROMBUS blood clot TID three times a day TITRATION a method for deciding on the strength of a drug or solution; gradually increasing the dose T-LYMPHOCYTES type of white blood cells TOPICAL on the surface TOPICAL ANESTHETIC applied to a certain area of the skin and reducing pain only in the area to which applied TOXICITY side effects or undesirable effects of a drug or treatment TRANSDERMAL through the skin TRANSIENTLY temporarily TRAUMA injury; wound TREADMILL walking machine used to test heart function

UPTAKE absorbing and taking in of a substance by living tissue

VALVULOPLASTY plastic repair of a valve, especially a heart valve VARICES enlarged veins VASOSPASM narrowing of the blood vessels VECTOR a carrier that can transmit disease-causing microorganisms (germs and viruses) VENIPUNCTURE needle stick, blood draw, entering the skin with a needle VERTICAL TRANSMISSION spread of disease

WBC white blood cell


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  24. Medical Terms in Lay Language

    Human Subjects Office / IRB Hardin Library, Suite 105A 600 Newton Rd Iowa City, IA 52242-1098. Voice: 319-335-6564 Fax: 319-335-7310