Business Plans, Funding and Grants
Much like other businesses, non-profits face a cash flow challenge and the next group of articles discusses how to write charitable business plans, where to find funds, the best fundraising prospects and how to write grants.
Non-Profit Business Plan
Non-profit business plans, although similar to other plans, require some essential elements such as where the charity obtained its capital startup funds, how it’s organized and specifics on future projects and expected expenditures. Learn what’s important to include in your business plan here.
In order to determine if the non-profit should expand or go in a certain direction, a feasibility study can help your board members determine the right path. Find all you need to complete a feasibility study for your non-profit with ease including how to determine possible alternatives or if ideas will work or should be dismissed before the initiation process. These are essential studies to do before spending important cash.
One of the most important financials you’ll need to provide in your business plan or feasibility study is a cash flow forecast showing revenue and expense projections. Use this free template from the Small Business Administration, which is designed specifically for non-profit organizations. Every business—even non-profits organizations—needs to make predictions and forecasts on where revenues will be coming from and how much expenses will be each month and these tools should be reviewed on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
Chart of Accounts
The chart of accounts for a charitable organization is different from that of private businesses. Find out what accounts you need to set up such as donations, charitable contributions and even member accounts to ensure filing your taxes will be easier. A nice feature of this chart of accounts is the ability to use it for any non-profit software system you utilize. Simply type in the account names and descriptions and you'll be off and running in no time.
Receipts for Donations
Use this free charitable receipt template to ensure donors receive credit when your organization receives donations. Don't struggle at year-end when all those calls come in for receipts as they will because as people file their personal or business tax returns, they will want proof of their donations. Instead, make the process easier by delivering receipts upon receipt of the donation.
Get the Right Accounting Software
The Internal Revenue Service requires all non-profits to file Form 990 annually (the non-profit tax return). To aid you in quick preparation, analyze these top five non-profit accounting software packages so you can make a better decision on which to pick. From the very affordable to the more expensive, there are lots of choices here and all offer free demos or free trials to help you make the best decision. Typically your tax professional and board members should make a decision and vote on which accounting software is the correct choice.
Finding Angel Investors
Unless your non-profit is massive in size, your best bet for finding funds to run the non-profit is through angel investors or fundraising. Learn where to find angel investors and what they look for in a non-profit. Some non-profits are lucky because they have founding fathers with tons of cash, but this is not always the case. If you don't have one of these supporters, you'll need to learn quickly where to find investors who are interested in what you do and will offer the needed cash when asked.
Many non-profits rely on grants as a venue to keep cash coming in to meet expenses or fund particular projects. Find out where to research non-profit grants as well as the correct format for submitting grants to ensure they catch the eye of the grant reader. Often, too little or too much information in a grant will make the reader dismiss it right away and this is not your goal. This is expert advice from grant writers who have achieved large grants and is a must-bookmark tool to utilize again and again.