Lesson 6 in the course How to Write a Nonprofit Business Plan
So far, we’ve covered a number of business elements that you have been responsible for personally. Most folks are driven by their passion for a cause, and that passion helps when you’re in start-up mode. However, creating, operating, and growing a nonprofit by yourself is like anything else; it can be exhausting, overwhelming, and even frustrating. Even if you plan to run the day-to-day operations alone, you’ll need a team that will help you with solidifying your vision, developing strategies, and implementing procedures. In this section of the nonprofit business plan, you will list your team, and discuss how they fit with the nonprofit.
Your board is made up of individuals who will not be working in the day-to-day operations of the nonprofit. However, their knowledge, experience, and connections are absolutely important for making your nonprofit a success. The board is ultimately responsible for the actions of the nonprofit, even though they do not run operations. When selecting people to sit on the board, make sure they:
- Share your vision and have a passion for the cause
- Bring valuable skills, resources, or experience to the nonprofit
- Have a basic understanding of legal requirements associated with a nonprofit
- Have the capacity to serve
It’s good practice to have at least five board members (although for 501(c)(3) status, it may only require three). It’s also good practice that the majority of board members should not be compensated or related to someone who is being compensated by the nonprofit.
To complete this section, list your board members, detail the skills, resources, and experience they bring with them to the nonprofit, and list the main role they will fill for the nonprofit
For most nonprofit startups, the management team is the founder (at least at first). However, having other people share the workload can help get things moving faster. They may be paid, or they may be a leadership team of volunteers. Don’t make the mistake of adding friends to the management team just for the sake of the friendship. Your management team members should share your passion for the cause, and your vision for the nonprofit. Many business and nonprofit startups have dissolved due to partners getting together for the wrong reasons.
When selecting people to help you build the nonprofit:
- Think about the fundraising events you plan to host, the programs and services that need a manager, and anything else that you will “do” as a nonprofit
- Figure out what skills and experience a person would need in order to be effective with each element, from your nonprofit accounting to fundraising
- Identify people who have the skills and experience that match the nonprofit’s needs
- Make sure the people you select have a history of working well in a team environment
After all, a person could have skills, experience, past success, etc. on paper. But, if they can’t work well with you, your board, and the rest of your people, they will not be effective managers for the nonprofit.
To complete this section of your nonprofit business plan, list the people who will manage your nonprofit, give details about their skills and experience, and highlight the role(s) they will fill for the nonprofit including their responsibilities.
Once you have selected your nonprofit’s leaders, you will have a solid group of people to help you make it through anything that gets in the way of building and growing your nonprofit. Lean on them. Take advantage of all that they bring to the table. If you’ve chosen correctly, they’ll even thank you for it.
Like any good coach, to prepare for a draft you must do a substantial amount of research on players to make sure you can effectively get the job done! Choosing your team of board members is no different. Take a look at Board Source’s website for professional advice on nonprofit governance. If you are on the hunt for a new board member, watch this quick video on recruiting board members for tips on what to look for and what skills your board members should bring to the team.
In this lesson, we learned a bit about building your board and management team. When you’re finished with this section of the nonprofit business plan, you’ll be ready to tackle your other human resource needs. In our next lesson, we’ll discuss the people who have their boots on the ground, doing the work of the nonprofit. These are the people who are actually providing the products and services that meet the needs you outlined in the needs analysis section of your nonprofit business plan.