Do you need a business plan?

Planning is an important part of running a successful group and a business plan is a useful way to structure and present your ambitions. Some funders, in particular large grant schemes or loan providers will need a business plan to help them decide if your idea is viable or not.

However, many voluntary and community groups plan very successfully without a business plan, and some find producing a formal document unhelpful as it gets in the way of more practical, responsive and flexible approaches to planning. If you have the choice, consider starting with a short plan and keep it reviewed regularly.

Business planning and fundraising

A business plan can help your organisation to agree and focus on its priorities, which in turn helps effective fundraising. Some funders and most lenders will require a business plan. Business planning also forms a key part of some quality assurance systems such as Investors in People, which might also help with attracting funding and investment.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is document which provides a framework for your activities over a period of time, usually between three and five years.

A business plan may cover your whole organisation or just one activity. It is usually presented as a finished document, although it should be continually reviewed and revised as you go along.

Typically, a business plan would aim to spell out:

  • your group’s aims and objectives
  • your group’s priorities and the reasoning behind them
  • an assessment of where the group is now and where it plans to be
  • budgets and cashflow
  • fundraising plans
  • marketing
  • resources needed
  • an action plan and timetable
  • monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the plan

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