Business Funding For Dummies
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Your funding plan is a strategic written document on a grant application that drives the organization's direction and decision-making process over a set period of time. Just a few years ago, organizations created three- to five-year long-range funding plans. Today, if an organization wants to be on the cutting edge and able to roll with the economic punches, its strategy needs to focus on 12 months.

If nonprofits, who are the bulk of grant recipients, are going to operate like for-profit businesses (with ongoing revenues and program growth), they must not be stuck using an organizational road map that's two to five years old. When you rely on such a long-range plan, inevitably some of the initial organizational goals become outdated quickly and most of the long-term goals are no longer anyone's priority.

Why, you ask? Because the economy changes rapidly, and the demands for services and service providers shift as a result. Unless a potential funder actually asks for a longer-range plan, stick with a one-year plan.

A typical funding plan includes goals, measurable objectives or benchmarks, action steps (implementation tasks), and the person or team responsible for carrying out the action steps. It contains the following parts, in this order:

  • Mission statement: Your mission statement tells potential funders who your organization is and why it does what it does.

  • Assessment of current financial, physical, and human resources: This assessment details your current operating budget (expenses and revenues year-to-date), your physical assets (buildings, equipment, vehicles, and so forth), and your staffing and volunteer levels.

  • Analysis of the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats: Strengths are what your ogranization does well; you start with these to begin brainstorming on a postive note. Weaknesses are gaps in services or general grant-seeking problems. Opportunities are unexplored paths that may lead to future funding (turning weaknesses into strengths). Finally, threats are what can drastically alter your current funding structure and possibly close your organization's doors.

  • Funding plan road map: This is a table that shows your stakeholders (staff, board members, and partner agencies) where you plan to seek money to support new or expanded programs and services. Plot all your research findings on grant-funding opportunities in this working table. Also include the program or activity in need of funding support, the anticipated support percentages for each funding revenue stream, and the party responsible.

  • Results tracking: This section of the funding plan details how your organization plans to track and evaluate your funding plan's success. Be sure to mention who conducts the monitoring and evaluation activities and who sees or reviews the evaluation findings or reports.

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