How to Start a Non-Profit Organization – Step 2: Business Planning

Setting the vision and strategy for your non-profit organization through the non-profit business plan.

Your non-profit business model. This will form the foundation of your non-profit organization. It’s where you bring together your talents, abilities, personality, and know-how to create a viable non-profit that matches a glaring gap in services available to the community.

Easier said than done, right? Well, maybe so, but by taking purposeful action to plan each part of your non-profit, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success.

Let me show you how to start a non-profit organization by going through three steps to define your non-profit business plan.

First, find out first what your service area needs.

Know your service area. It’s best to start a non-profit in an area you are familiar with – maybe you’ve worked or volunteered in this area before. Or maybe you have a relative in this service area. Even more powerful – you were a recipient of services in this area.

Engage with both recipients of services in your target area, as well as those providing the services. Survey them. Interview them. Ask them as many questions as you can to get the best picture possible of gaps in services available to this segment.

Then, choose a service area capable of providing the funding you believe you’ll need to fulfill your vision.

You should research potential funding sources and determine the feasibility of obtaining that funding. This service area should be a good fit for you with respect to your talents, abilities, personality and know-how.

A good business plan should incorporate what you’ve learned in your research by telling the readers how you plan to achieve the ultimate goal of your venture. It must answer these important questions:

  • Who are you serving?
  • What are you offering?
  • How long will your program take?
  • Where will you first start?


Non-Profit Vision and Mission Statement

You create a concrete identity when you set the vision and mission statements for your non-profit. Unless you have significant funding lined up, or at least until you create a non-profit website, the document outlining your vision and strategic plan will be the only tangible form your idea has, it’s what potential donors and partners will see; hence, it’s important to get this step right.

A vision statement defines the ultimate goal for the non-profit and describes what the world would be like if the non-profit achieves full success. For example: “We envision a world where every child can grow in a safe and secure environment” or “Our vision is a world free from malaria.”

The non-profit mission statement illustrates how the non-profit will reach its vision and gives a sense of the strategy it will use: for example: “We will advocate for stricter laws against child sexual abuse.”

Another non-profit organization may work towards the same vision with a different approach: “We will work with the community and set up neighborhood watch programs to ensure a safe space for kids.” The non-profit mission statement should give a clear sense of who the stakeholders and target audience for that organization are.

You don’t necessarily need to create separate vision and mission statements as long as your statement clarifies the non-profit’s ultimate goal and overall approach.

More resources to craft your vision statement can be found here:


This brings us to the end of this installment in the How to Start a Non-Profit Organization series.

Ready for the next part?

Click this link to go to Step 3 for How to Start a Non-Profit Organization: Legal Necessities- issues to keep in mind when starting a non-profit organization.