Planning for Nonprofit Organizations - dummies

By Erica Olsen

Nonprofit staff often concentrates on those it serves and focuses less on analyzing competition and allocating resources. However, since the beginning of the Great Recession, this trend is changing. For-profit businesses compete for customers, and their very survival depends on providing services or products to satisfied, paying clients. Nonprofit organizations operate in competitive markets, where their revenues (often relying on grants or memberships) minus their costs don’t yield a large surplus.

With a growing number of nonprofit organizations offering similar services, stakeholders want to ensure that the organization provides optimal results for the resources they’ve been given. Nonprofits are finding that success only increases the number of competitors entering the field to compete for grants. Growing competition in the nonprofit market has made grant money and membership contributions scarce, even as need and demand increase.

Today, nonprofit organizations find themselves competing for a small pool of resources. In order to compete more effectively, today’s executive directors are required to understand their competitors, rethink their business processes, create a sustainable competitive advantage, implement business best practices, and increase collaboration where appropriate.

As all executive directors know, the nonprofit world shares information freely and openly. Here are a few resources that help nonprofits with their strategic planning:

  • Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide and Workbook (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.): This resource was written by Michael Allison and Jude Kaye and is outstanding for nonprofit planners because it provides a comprehensive set of worksheets for all aspects of nonprofit planning.

  • CompassPoint’s Nonprofit Genie: This resource provides free information about nonprofit topics, including strategic planning. Click Resources.

  • Alliance for Nonprofit Management: This group is a professional association of individuals and organizations devoted to improving the management and governance capacity of nonprofits and to assist nonprofits in fulfilling their mission. The association’s website has a host of free resources dedicated to nonprofit management.