Nonprofit Business Plans: The Funder Perspective

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending a couple hours discussing nonprofit business planning with staff from the Packard Foundation, as well as guests from the Hewlett Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, at a lunch convening at Packard’s beautiful new LEED Platinum certified building.

We looked at business plans from the funder perspective, and how they can be useful in the context of grantmaking. Participants broke into small groups to talk about: When do you ask for a business plan? and What do you look for?

As I listened to program officers share their own experiences and questions, I was struck by their commitment to “getting it right”  — to offer the kinds of help their grantees need most, when they most need it.

We talked about the difference between strategic planning and business planning as well as the circumstances when a business plan might be preferable to a strategic plan, such as when the proposed venture is new, growing dramatically, or high-risk. We also discussed the need to build business plans on strategy, as the two are inextricable.

Add your comments below. What do you look for in a business plan?

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