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Passion Without a Plan

There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, and 98,000 are in Texas. That’s a lot of passion about a lot of causes. People start nonprofits because they want to make a difference in th

e lives of others. Too often, these founders lead with their hearts, not their heads. They focus on the service to others and not the structure of their newly created organizations.

Investors vs. Donors

Entrepreneurs are also passionate about their ideas. They need investors the way nonprofits need donors. The difference is that they start with their business plan before they attempt to serve their first customer. A plan includes the current environment for the business, competitors, defines the goals, objectives, and strategies of the proposed business for investors.

The major difference between nonprofit organizations and for-profit ventures is the tax structure. Nonprofits rely on contributions from donors who get a deduction on their taxes; for-profit businesses depend on investors who receive dividends, a share of the profits.

How We’re the Same

Nonprofits need structure, just like businesses. Both have employees, so they need good policies and procedures; both depend on revenue and have expenses and need bookkeeping and accounting services; and both often have facilities and share the need for maintenance.

You can read more about this topic in my article, Business-Minded Nonprofit. Click HERE.

Here are a few nonprofits that are run like for-profit businesses:

  • National Geographic

  • American Cancer Society

  • PBS and NPR

  • Hospitals and universities

There are lessons nonprofits can learn from for-profit companies:

Bottom line, a strategic plan documents the overall goals for your organization and how they will be achieved. The process of creating a plan is led by the CEO and the senior leadership team. Managers, department heads, and other staff also play a role in developing the strategic plan. Your long-range development and operating plans should be based on your strategic plan.

A strategic plan will help you successfully focus on your mission.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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