By: Pauline Ndambuki
Can business and charity find common ground? In today’s world they have to! Long gone are the days when a donor would throw capital at an organization merely for its mission statement, and it doesn’t help that the economy is still very much stagnant. Funds are here today and gone tomorrow. Given these harsh realities, non-profits (which need money and tons of it) need to find more feasible and long-term solutions to financing their operations and staying true to their missions.
So what do businesses have that non-profits clearly need? A business plan. A business plan is like a torch in pitch darkness. It is a thought-out tactical effort, (in writing) that helps in planning and implementing strategies that align with an organization’s mission. At the same time, it ensures financial stability. The traditional definition of a business plan might leave many philanthropic entities weary, given that the functional definition of non-profit is: a body not conducted or maintained for the purpose of making a profit. However, a deeper incision into the definition of “business” should help non-profits rest easier.
The term business doesn’t necessarily mean profit, instead businesses can be classified as for-profit or non-profit. A for-profit business is centered on ownership that entitles owners to claim any profit not re-invested in the organization. On the other hand, non-profits commit all of their monetary resources to achieving their respective missions. Despite these differences both types of business stand to gain significantly from the use of a business plan. For non-profits, a business plan:
· Acts as a yardstick to measure the feasibility of a vision or goal. Different outcomes result from mixtures between benevolence and ideology vs benevolence and pragmatism.
· Determines whether there is a need for the proposed goods/services. Sometimes charity can find very few people to appreciate and/or take advantage of it.
· Helps promote a practical understanding of the costs (current and future), particularly those related to operation, competition and potential risk, as well as the level of investment/financing that should be considered.
· Sets metrics to measure and track progress
· Builds investor or donor confidence in the credibility of a mission. For some donors, many of whom amassed their riches in the for-profit sector, investing in charitable bodies that have a business plan improves trust and transparency.
In short, a business plan helps create long-term value for an organization even if its primary goal is not to drive profit.
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