How to Prepare a Business Plan for Your Ministry
by Lynn Jacobs
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If you are reading this article, no doubt God has called you into a particular ministry and has given you the gifts, skills, and abilities necessary to fulfill that calling. After you have recognized the vision that He has set before you, it is time to begin the planning and organization phase in order to establish and maintain a healthy ministry. Part of that initial process should include the preparation of a business plan.
Business plans are not only for enterprises that operate for profit. Nonprofit entities and churches benefit greatly by having a business plan. An effective business plan is based on the mission statement of your ministry, but it goes a step further to explain in detail how you intend to put your mission into practice. It also aids in financial planning, developing marketing strategies, and identifying any challenges or obstacles that you may anticipate during the organizational phase of your ministry.
There is no "one size fits all" business plan, as each nonprofit corporation or church has its own unique purpose. However, many excellent guides and templates are available that explain the various components that are integrated into most business plans. Listed below are some of the standard elements you will find in almost any nonprofit business plan:
1. Executive Summary. This section contains the mission statement, goals and objectives of the ministry, and the primary keys to its success.
2. Description of the Ministry. This section includes the corporate structure, location, and a description of programs and services.
3. Marketing Plan. A market analysis and strategy for reaching those people to whom you intend to minister is included in this section, along with descriptions of promotional materials, advertising, and website design.
4. Financial Plan. This section includes revenue, operations, and marketing assumptions, and projected cash flows.
5. Management Summary. A list of your board of directors and officers, with a brief bio for each one, is the highlight of this section. You may also want to include any ministry portfolios for the various programs you wish to implement.
Tim Berry at bplans.com suggests that "A business plan will be hard to implement unless it is simple, specific, realistic and complete." Therefore, you should ask yourself these questions as you write your business plan:
1. Is this plan simple, easy to understand and to implement?
2. Does this plan set forth specific goals and objectives that include target completion dates and the names of the individuals who are responsible for helping to implement the plan?
3. Are the ministry and financial goals realistic and reachable?
4. Does this plan contain all of the necessary elements to establish and operate the ministry?
You may want to seek counsel from an attorney who specializes in forming nonprofit corporations in order to prepare the simplest yet most informative business plan required by your specific ministry needs.
Some helpful resources can be found at the following websites: www.nonprofitexpert.com www.churchsolutionsmag.com www.bplans.com www.bridgespangroup.org/PDF/IntrotoBusPlanning.pdf.
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