4 Ways You Can Use One Plan to Sustain Growth, Stay on Mission and Raise More Funds

I don’t believe in operating without a plan. Yes, a plan! The fact is, you need a plan to succeed.

In person you will hear me say: “Let’s be more intentional, let’s make sure this is strategic.” And you might wonder: ‘What does that mean?’ I’m glad you asked. In a nutshell, I don’t believe in operating without a plan.Yes, a plan! Whether that’s a business plan, a budget, a strategic plan, a content calendar, a board matrix chart, or a fund development plan, to name a few. The fact is, you need a plan to succeed. I know that I mentioned a lot of plans, so let’s just start with one. (Be sure to subscribe so you’re first to learn about the next one!)

Let’s start with a budget. I have to speak frankly and factually, and acknowledge that yes, Black-led organizations are underfunded. But even with limited resources, you still need a plan. If you have to boot strap it like I did, do it with a plan!

I want to share my four top reasons why budgets are essential planning tools. While there are many other reasons why financial forecasting, planning and budgeting are important, these four points are the most critical for understanding the purpose of the budget and helping you understand why it’s an essential planning tool.

1. Knowing your numbers is a must. As a nonprofit leader, you need to understand your expenses before you start asking for money. The budget is your real world forecast of what you need to do the work and operate the organization. Stop pulling numbers out the sky. Sit down and map out your actual costs, based on research and comparison “shopping” to identify average actual costs of goods and services.

2. Informed decisions are smarter decisions. How in the world are you making decisions about your operations without a budget? A well-crafted budget helps you make the tough decisions. “Can I do this program? Or will this stretch our organization?” are questions that your budget can answer. One of the most important–and most difficult–things to consider is: are you helping or hurting if you are in and out of a community because you didn’t adequately plan?

3. Budgets provide performance data. Remember how I talked about data in my last post? Well the budget projections and performance reports are your internal data. You need to understand how your organization is performing. Are you ready to scale? Are you prepared to expand your programming? Don’t be fooled by serving large numbers of clients. Steady and sustainable always wins the race!

4. Budgets can help you maintain mission focus. Stop mission creeping is something I caution all growing organizations to be mindful of. It’s going be hard if you don’t have a solid budget. You know why? Because you are going to fall into a trap of doing anything and everything for money. I see it all the time in with nonprofit founders and small business entrepreneurs! Check in now with yourself. Have you done something and know deep inside that it’s not what you want to do, not what you’re called to do, but you feel you have to do because you need the money? In the nonprofit world that could be considered mission creeping.

These are my four top reasons why budgets are essential planning tools to support your organizaton’s growth, power its expansion and attract more financial support. I’d love to hear how you’ve made use of budgets to power your growth and sustain your work.

Until next time peeps…Enjoy the journey!

Ready to put these ideas to work?

Do you need support to implement the business strategies outlined here? Book a strategy session with me to jumpstart your business approach to running your nonprofit.

Written by Joy Nelson Thomas



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