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All of these headings are a guide – you should

change or rearrange them to suit your


organisation.
Title page
Contents
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Background
This is where you put everything that you need your reader to know.
It should be a brief description of what you do, who you do it for and how you’re going to
do it. It should also include a clear statement of what you need to achieve it. Some
people may read only this section, so it needs to be concise but powerful.
For example, if you’re applying for a large grant, your main funding officer will read the
whole business plan before proposing your application to committee. However, the
decision-making committee may only have time to read the executive summary. It
shouldn’t be more than one page long.

1.1 Organisational summary


Give an overview of your organisation
Briefly describe:
 who you are (the organisation in one sentence)
 what you do (products and services)
 why you do it (social impact)
 what you plan to do (aims and objectives)
 how you’ll do it (key outputs/activities).

1.2 Market summary


Give an overview of your beneficiaries and customers
You’ll have beneficiaries, but you may also have customers if you’re trading – and they
might be different people. It’s useful to summarise both here.
Briefly describe:
 who you do it for (beneficiaries) and why (need)
 who your customers are
 how big the market is.

1.3 Financial summary


Summarise your financial situation
Give a statement of where you are now (your current turnover), your main sources of
income and any plans to diversify your income.

1.4 What we need to make it happen


Write a short statement of what you need to achieve your aims
If you’re applying for a grant or a loan, and your business plan is part of your
application, it’s useful to state a clear ‘ask’ up front. This makes it easy for the reader to
put your plan into context.
For example: ‘We are looking for investment of £350,000 over the next three years to
make this happen.’
If you’re not applying for funding, you could still make a statement about how much it
will cost to achieve your plan. It’s likely that you’ll need funding at some point, so it’s
good to show that you have worked out your costs: ‘Over the next three years, we plan
to diversify our income and increase our turnover by 15%, in order to fully realise the
aims set out in this plan.’
Be realistic about what you can achieve and what you need to achieve it.

2. ABOUT YOUR ORGANISATION


2.1 Vision, mission, values
Give your organisation's vision, mission and values
As a voluntary organisation, you should have a good idea of your vision, mission and
values .
Whether you’re a community group, a charity or a social enterprise, your mission – and
the vision behind it – is what drives you on; your values underpin all your decisions and
actions as an organisation.
They should be strong statements that reflect who you are as an organisation, and help
your staff and board have a shared understanding of what you want to achieve.

What it should describe Example (WaterAid)

Vision The ideal world for your organisation A world where everyone, everywhere has
safe water, sanitation and hygiene

Mission How your organisation is going to help To transform the lives of the poorest and
achieve that vision most marginalised people by improving
access to safe water, sanitation and
hygiene

Values The basic principles that guide who Respect, collaboration, accountability,
you are as an organisation and which innovation, courage, integrity
form the basis of how you interact
with others

2.2 History
Give a brief summary of how you got to where you are now
You don’t need to write your charity’s entire history. Describe when and why the
organisation was set up, what you’ve achieved since then and whether there have been
any changes to your founding principles (and if so, why).
Include any relevant, recent information (for example if you’ve been through a merger in
the last few years or the organisation has changed its name). This helps give the reader
a picture of your journey so far.

2.3 Where we are now


Describe what your organisation looks like today
 How many staff do you have?
 What’s your turnover?
 Have you had significant growth in the last few years?
 What have your major achievements been?
 What are the key challenges that you’re facing?
 How has the environment you work in changed? For example, have there been
any significant changes in government policy, or has there been a shift in public
opinion about the communities you work with?
Think about what’s most relevant for the audience that you’re writing for.
You want to show that you’re in a strong position to achieve your aims, but that you’re
realistic about how well equipped you are to deal with the current environment. Be
honest about where you need help and explain why you’ve created a business plan for
the specified period.
For example, if you’re applying for a loan from a social investor, they’ll want to see that
you have plans for growth. They’ll want to know that you have strong organisational
structures and that you’ve identified any weaknesses or gaps in your skill set. You’ll
need to tell them why now is the right time to take on investment.
You’ll expand on some of this in later sections, so just pick out the headlines.

2.4 Legal status


State your legal status (for example, whether or not you are a charity or a limited
company, and if you have any plans to change your legal status).

2.5 Our aims


Set out what you want to achieve over your chosen time period.
Keep it simple, and use a table, graphic or bullet points. Try to stick to three or four big
aims.
Briefly describe what you’ll do to achieve those aims (your activity or ‘outputs’).
Spend some time working these out as a team; having clear aims will help you to
streamline your work, and map out your activity more efficiently.

3. WHAT WE DO
3.1 Product and services
Describe what your organisation does
 What services do you provide?
 Who do you provide them to?
 Why/how did you develop these services?
 Do you have different versions of your service?
 How do you evaluate your services?
 If you sell products, what are they? What do they do?
 Did you create these products? How did you design them? What do they do for
the customer?
It can be helpful to include pictures (for products) or diagrams (for services).

3.2 Product and service development


Describe how you plan to develop your products or services over the
business plan period
 Will you develop new products or services?
 Will you be launching your service in a new market?
 Why is it the right time to do this?
 What are your timescales for launch?
Your products and services are key to your business plan: these are the things that
allow you to both generate income and create social impact. Make it clear how you see
your products and services developing to meet the needs of your beneficiaries and
customers.
Set out your ambitions for growth (if you’re an established organisation) or for testing
out your products and services (if you’re a new organisation), including plans for
learning and evaluation.

4. OUR MARKET
4.1 Beneficiaries
Describe your beneficiaries
You may be used to describing your beneficiaries in grant applications, but a business
plan is different.
Think about your beneficiaries in the context of your plan – what is it about the people
and communities you work with that has influenced your aims, and what could change
that will affect how you operate?
Briefly describe who your beneficiaries are, where they are and what their needs are.
If you’re using the business plan as part of a grant application, it’s likely you’ve been
asked for detailed evidence of need as part of your application. You don’t need to go
into so much detail here: focus on how the evidence has helped you to develop your
product or service. Put any research or evidence in an appendix.
Highlight the key challenges facing your beneficiaries and how your business plan is
responding to these challenges.
If anything is going to change for your beneficiaries that directly affects your operations,
set it out here. For example, if you support people with disabilities to access suitable
transport, your whole financial and operational model will be affected by changes in
government policy on disability benefits.
If there are certain groups or communities you don’t work with, explain why. For
example, you may restrict your support to adults, as there are other organisations who
support children with similar challenges.

4.2 Customers
Describe your customers
If you’re selling products or services, then you’ll have customers. This includes selling
services under contract (your customers are the commissioning agency) or to other
businesses. It’s vital that you understand your customers, especially if you plan to grow
your organisation.
 Describe your customer base. Where are they? How old are they? Do you have
a typical customer? How many unique customers do you have? Are your customers
individuals or other organisations/businesses?
 What makes your customers come to you? Do you have passing trade or do
people come to you for a particular reason? If your customers are other businesses,
is there a particular time or situation when they come to you?
 If you’re selling services under contract, why have you been selected? Have you
won through competitive tendering (more likely for voluntary organisations) or been
approached directly?
 If you’re planning to expand your market, which customers are you targeting?
Why have you chosen them?
 How big is your target market? How have you worked this out?
 If you’re already trading, how many sales have you made? What’s the value of
those sales, over how many customers?

4.3 Donors and supporters


Describe your donors and supporters
This may not be relevant to all voluntary organisations, but if donors and fundraising are
a major source of income for your organisation, you should include them in your
business plan.
You can refer to a fundraising strategy if you have one (which you should if this is your
main source of income), but it’s useful to include a description of your donors in here as
well.
 Who are they?
 Why do they donate?
 Do you have regular donors?
 What is the average size of donations?
 What prompts people to donate?
You may have other supporters who are key to realising your plan, for example local
businesses who give you in-kind support or sponsorship.
Describe who they are, how they’ve supported you and what support you need from
them to achieve your aims. Set out any challenges or potential risks in managing these
relationships.

5. MARKET RESEARCH AND TESTING


5.1 Research
Describe the research you've done on your market
In section 4, you described your customers. In this section, describe the research that
backs up your statements.
A business plan is only as good as the facts behind it, so if you haven’t done your
research, your plan is likely to fail. Voluntary organisations tend to be very good at
learning about their beneficiaries and will be used to sourcing research and evidence.
You can apply the same principles to customers.
You don’t need to include all of your research here, but you can put it in an appendix if
you think it’s essential.
Market research doesn’t have to be expensive. There are lots of ways you can access
market data for free, and plenty of free internet or social media tools that can help you
gather information from potential customers.

5.2 Testing
Describe how you've tested your market
If you’re launching a new product or service, and if you’re hoping to generate trading
income, it’s a good idea to test your market. This is essential for voluntary organisations,
as it’s likely you’ll have limited time and money to invest in a new product. You need to
know that it’s going to work.
Describe how you’ve tested your market or set out any testing that you plan to do.
This goes beyond market research: it’s about taking your product or service to real
customers and asking them to use it. It’s hard to ask people what they think of a product
or service if they’ve never tried it.
If you can, ask some trusted contacts (for example, some of your most engaged
beneficiaries) to form a testing group. Involve them in the product development from an
early stage and ask them to try a basic version of your product or service. Watch how
they use it and ask for feedback.
This kind of testing can give you invaluable information about how, when and why
people will use your product or service, and it will highlight any problems or unmet
expectations.

6. HOW WE REACH OUR MARKET


Background
In section 4 you described who your customers are; now you need to describe how
you’ll communicate with them and what you want to tell them.

Describe how you’ll reach your customers


Start by thinking about how you’ll reach the people who will pay for and use your
service. If you have different groups of customers, you might need to use several
different types of communication.
Think about the kind of relationship each type of customer would like to have with you.
For example, some customers may want to buy something from you online as quickly
as possible. They never want to see you or talk to you, and they may not want to hear
from you again.
Other customers will want to have a more personal service, where they know who to
contact if they have problems. They may want to be involved in developing the service
or even get the chance to volunteer with you.
There are lots of different ways to reach your customers; these are sometimes called
marketing channels. Think carefully about which channels are most appropriate for
which customers – for example, older people are less likely to use social media and
might be more likely to read a local paper.
You should also think about whether you’re trying to reach new customers (who you
don’t know much about) or existing customers (who you already have a relationship
with), as you may need to treat them differently.
Marketing channels could include:
 social media (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube)
 websites
 print media (newspaper advertising or editorials, trade/sector magazines)
 online media (trade/sector newsletters, your own newsletter)
 emails
 word of mouth
 events, open days or trade shows
 flyers and posters
 radio advertising or editorials
 linking into national/local campaigns
 press releases
 blogs.

Describe what you need to tell your customers


Next, think about what you need to say. If you don’t have a clear purpose for your
marketing, your customer may not get the right message. Are you just giving them some
information or do you want them to take action? If so, what action do you want them to
take?
Make sure you have simple and clear messages that are relevant to each audience.
Now you’ve worked out the who, how and why of your marketing, you can describe your
marketing strategy.

6.1 Marketing strategy


Give an overview of what you want to achieve through your marketing
plan
This might only cover the first year of your business plan as it’s likely you’ll want to
review it as you learn more about your customers.
 What do you need your marketing plan to achieve? (For example, 'Recruit X new
customers over the next 12 months,' 'Increase sales to regular customers by X%,' 'Increase
brand recognition.')
 Who is the target market for your marketing strategy?
 Why have you chosen to target this group at the present time?
 What are your key marketing channels and why do you think these are most important to
invest in?
 What is your overall marketing budget and how will this spread out over the business
plan period? (For example, you may have a large marketing spend in the first year, which
decreases once you are up and running, or you may need a big seasonal push every year.)
 Is your marketing plan related to or reliant on any major campaigns, events or
programmes?
 When and how will your marketing plan be reviewed?

Refer to your fundraising strategy if you have donors


If you’re also raising income from donors, you may want to refer to your fundraising
strategy and describe how your marketing strategy complements the work you’re doing
to attract donors. It’s important to show that you have clear and distinct messages for
each strategy, so that you are not confusing donors with customers.
6.2 Marketing plan
Set out a brief overview of your marketing plan
You may want to include a full marketing plan as an appendix. This could include full
timescales, costs and more detailed descriptions of your customer groups.
For the overview, it’s helpful to lay the information out in a table, as in the example
below.

Who is the target How will you reach them? What do you want to tell When will you
customer or them and what action do do this:
beneficiary group? you want them to take? regularly or at a
specific time?

Parents of babies Word of mouth (parents’ Visit the café for a free January and
and toddlers who groups, existing coffee when they buy a February 2017
have not visited our customers kids’ meal (winter offer)
café before
Social media: Facebook
page, Twitter
Free listing in local online
‘Things to do with kids’
forum

Potential business Website Attend exclusive From March


clients for our networking sessions to 2017
consultancy service Email to existing contacts learn more about our area
of expertise and our March 2017
Business briefing (coincide with
breakfasts: private invites consultancy service
web launch)
to warm contacts for
session on hot policy Monthly
issue, led by our
consultants

6.3 Our brand


Describe your brand and how you communicate it
Your brand should be a key tool in your marketing strategy. It’s your chance to tell the
world who you are and make sure that all of your marketing activity is linked together.
A brand is not just about a logo. It’s about your key messages, the way you present
yourselves to the world and the way you want to be seen. A successful brand:
 communicates how you want to be perceived
 makes it easy for customers to identify you or distinguish you from competitors
 makes it easier to build loyalty
 helps to build trust.
Look back at your values. How do you get these across to the people you want to
reach?
This might be through tangible marketing (logo, strapline, imagery, website design) or
more intangible activity (the way you describe your organisation when you’re talking to
people, the type of relationships you have with customers or clients). What kind of
message do you want to convey?

Brand identity

Briefly describe your brand. If you’re in the process of updating your brand, describe
how you want to be seen in five years and what you need to change to achieve this.

Key messages

List the key messages that you want to convey to your market. These might be three or
four short statements about who you are, what you do and what action you want people
to take. You might not actually state these in all of your communications, but the type of
marketing you use will help you to get these messages across.

Managing the brand

Describe any tools that you have to help keep your brand consistent. This might include
a ‘style guide’ that tells your staff how to write and present communications in line with
your brand identity.
You may also have brand guidelines, which tell both your staff and other organisations
how they should use your logo or refer to the organisation.

6.4 Key Relationships


Highlight relationships that are important to your marketing strategy or
brand
Many voluntary organisations work in partnership with other organisations and
businesses.
In section 8 you’ll describe your delivery partners, but here you should highlight any
relationships that are important to your marketing strategy or brand. These might be
local businesses who help to promote your work, or national campaigns that you link
into as a core part of your marketing plan.
For example, a breast cancer charity may link into Breast Cancer Awareness Week. A
significant portion of their marketing activity might take place during that week, so a
large portion of the budget may also be spent at that time.
This kind of relationship can be hugely beneficial, but you should also recognise the
risks of being associated with another brand, such as your own brand and message
being overshadowed by your partners.

7. MARKET ANALYSIS
Background
Use this section to show your understanding of the market you’re working in and what
external factors could affect your organisation.

7.1 PESTEL analysis


Complete a PESTEL analysis
A PESTEL analysis is a simple tool that allows you to identify big external trends and
drivers that could have a positive or negative impact on your business. (PESTEL stands
for political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal: the six areas that
the analysis covers.)
For voluntary organisations, this is often to do with the policy (political) environment or
the changing needs of their beneficiaries (social). However, all the sections are
important, and you might come up with challenges and opportunities that you hadn’t
thought of before.
Work with your colleagues to complete the table.

Political Economic Social Technological Environmental Legal

Government Funding Lifestyle or Emerging Weather Regulation


policy opportunities cultural factors technologies
affecting your Climate Law
Changes to Economic customers or Data and change
government environment information Standards
beneficiaries Pollution
(interest rates,
consumer Public Waste and
spending) attitudes recycling

Add a short paragraph to describe how you’ve used PESTEL as part of


your business planning
You should show that you’re prepared to deal with upcoming challenges or take
advantage of opportunities.
As a voluntary organisation, you might not be in a position to act on every opportunity
because of a lack of time or resources. Highlight those that you plan to focus on and
describe why you think they’re most important.

7.2 Competitor analysis


Most voluntary organisations will be used to competing for funds, often with
organisations who are doing similar work. If you’ve ever applied for a grant, you’ll have
had to state why you’re best placed to deliver the desired outcomes.
Competitor analysis is an extension of this: you need to think about where you’re
stronger and weaker than your competitors in terms of delivering what the customer
needs or wants.

7.2.1. Who are our competitors?

Include a short description of how you’ve identified your competitors

If you’re trading with customers, your competitors are not always obvious. Think about
who is competing for the customer’s money.
For example, if you’re a charity that offers a teaching product to schools, such as an
outdoor classroom, you’re not just competing with other organisations that offer outdoor
classrooms: you’re competing with all the organisations that offer teaching products to
schools in your area.
These products might be completely different to yours, but the school has to make a
decision whether to allocate their budget to you or another provider; they might choose
a completely different activity. It’s up to you to understand what the school’s priorities
are, how you complement the curriculum and what their budget allows. You’ll then have
a better understanding of how you compare with your competitors.

7.2.2 Table of competitors

Fill in a table of competitors with as much information as you can find out

Do this by reading annual reports, looking at data from the Charity Commission or
Companies House, or mystery shopping.

Who What Target Price range Strengths Weaknesses


market
Company What do Who are Price for similar Eg size, Eg quality,
name, they do their key products/services experience, reliability,
location and (products customers to yours brand out-dated,
size and (age, recognition, not local
(turnover, services)? location, What price bracket quality
employees) social they are aiming at
group)? (eg mid-range, low
Legal status budget)?
(limited
company,
charity)

7.2.3 SWOT analysis

Complete a SWOT analysis

A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is a tool to help


you work out how to stand out from the competition. You can complete it as a group
exercise with colleagues or, ideally, with some of your customers or beneficiaries.

Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats

What you’re Areas where you’re Key opportunities to Anything that could
good at and not as strong or improve and grow your damage your business or
why people things that you find business (you can reputation, or give your
choose or trust it hard to keep on identify these with your competitors an advantage
you over others top of PESTEL analysis) (you can identify these
with your PESTEL
analysis)

7.2.4 Summary

Give a short summary of what you’ve learnt about your competitors and how you’ll stand out
from the crowd

Don’t just dismiss your competitors – you can always learn something from how other
organisations operate.
 Who are your biggest competitors and how will you use your strengths to compete with
them?
 Do you have any plans to work with your competitors?
 What makes you and your product or service unique? Why will customers choose you
over others?
8. OPERATIONAL PLAN
Background
This section should describe the day-to-day operations of your business: how your business
works, your key milestones and your timetable for action.

8.1 Milestones and timescale


Set out milestones for your organisational aims in a table
Milestones are important achievements that allow you to move on to the next stage, for
example the development of a new product, the purchase of a building or the launch of
your website.
Set milestones for each of your organisational aims. Put the information in a table, as in
the example below.
You don’t need to include every single activity that you plan to carry out: list the main
activities and milestones that show your journey towards your aims and that
demonstrate you’re doing things in a logical order.
If you want to refer to a more detailed project planning table, such as a GANTT chart,
put it in an appendix.
Activity/Outputs Milestones Timescale

Aim 1: We will improve Increase number of qualified Read Together March


access to literacy literacy teachers in north east website launch 2017
training for adults in through ‘Read Together’
North East England. campaign
Volunteer April 2017
Secure training premises in 10 manager
additional local areas recruited
Recruit additional literacy
volunteers for all partner Three new May 2017
community centres premises secured
in Tees Valley.

8.2 Resources
Describe or list the resources that you need to operate your business
These might include:
 premises
 equipment
 transport
 knowledge/access to information
 IT.
Note whether you have these things already; if you don’t have them, explain how you
plan to access them.

8.3 Partners and suppliers


Describe the people and organisations you need to work with to carry
out your business
These might be:
 delivery partners: organisations that you work with to carry out a programme of work,
run a campaign or develop a product or service; referral agencies; active sponsors
 suppliers: organisations who provide resources that are essential to your work, for
example equipment, materials or premises.

Briefly describe your relationship with them


How long have you worked with them? Why you have chosen them? Do you plan to
review the relationship?
Many voluntary organisations work with others because their beneficiaries may be
involved with other support agencies. If you’re a small organisation and you want to bid
for a large contract, you may need to be part of a consortium to be eligible to tender.
Make sure you highlight any risks associated with these relationships, for example any
instances where you’re heavily reliant on one partner or supplier. Show that you’re
aware of the risks and describe any plans to reduce or mitigate these risks.

8.4 Premises and equipment


Premises and equipment can be one of your biggest costs. Your business plan should
show how your costs relate to what you’re trying to achieve, so it’s important to show
why you’ve chosen to invest in specific premises or particular equipment.
As with any part of your plan, the reader should be able to see that these costs are
realistic and relevant to your aims.

8.4.1 Premises

Describe the type of premises that you need


 Where do you carry out your business?
 Do you need any particular type of premises in order to operate? (For example, you
might need a training room, a kitchen or a gym.)
 Why are your premises important to what you do?
 Have you you’ve managed to find and secure premises? If not, set out your plans to do
so.

8.4.2 Equipment

List the equipment you need to operate your business

This might include:


 IT equipment
 catering equipment
 teaching supplies
 play equipment
 disability aids.
If you need specialist equipment, say what you need and why you need it. If there are
alternatives, set out why you’ve chosen that particular equipment.

8.5 Transport and logistics


Describe your process (if any) for transporting goods and services
This may not be relevant to all voluntary organisations. If your work is office based and
you don’t send out any products to customers, you may not need any transport or
logistics (beyond the Royal Mail).
If you do need to transport goods or services, use this section to describe how you do it.
 How do you get things from A to B?
 Is this the most cost-efficient way of doing things?
 Do you own your own vehicles? Do you need to purchase or hire a vehicle?
 Are you reliant on a particular transport provider?
 Do you have any time constraints (for example, if you’re working with fresh food)?
 Do you post products out to customers? How do you manage this process?

8.6 Payments
Describe your payments process
How do people pay for your products or services?
There are lots of different ways to take payments, including:
 one-off cash or credit transactions (online or in person)
 Direct Debits
 membership schemes (accumulated credit or pay-per-use)
 loan or rental schemes.
If you take payment online, how is this managed? Do you have an online store? How do
you ensure that payments are secure?

8.7 Legal requirements


State any legal requirements relating to your business activity and
whether you’ve met or are working towards them
Many voluntary organisations will already adhere to certain standards that relate to their
beneficiaries, for example if they’re working with children or vulnerable adults. However,
you may need to meet additional legal requirements to carry out your business activity.
For example, if you’re preparing food, you’ll need the correct licenses and certifications
for your kitchens.
State whether you’re VAT registered and if you qualify for any exemptions.
You may also wish to include details of any legal, financial or other professional advisers
that you work with.

8.8 Insurance
As a voluntary organisation, you’re likely to have more than one type of insurance,
including public liability, professional indemnity, employer’s liability insurance, buildings
insurance, contents insurance or events insurance. Some of these may be required by
law or by your constitution.

State what type and level of insurance you have or will need
Depending on your activities and who you work with, insurance can be a significant cost
to your organisation.
State how often you review your insurance provision to ensure that you’re getting the
best value for money.
If you’re using your business plan to apply for funding or investment, you could include
quotes in the appendix.

9. PEOPLE, MANAGEMENT AND


GOVERNANCE
Background
Describe the people who are crucial to your organisation
For voluntary organisations, your people are often your most important asset. The
knowledge, passion and experience of your team is probably what sets you apart from
your competitors. In this section, describe the people who are crucial to your
organisation and who will be involved in delivering your business plan.
It’s also important to state whether you’re lacking any particular skill sets or if you’re
heavily reliant on one person.
Describe your plans to bring in new skills or transfer knowledge across a wider team.

9.1 Our team


Give brief biographies of your core management team
Describe how their skills and experience are relevant to your aims.
If your work requires specialist skills or qualifications (for example clinical/medical
training, childcare qualifications or IT training), highlight the members of staff who meet
those criteria or where you need recruit new staff.

9.2 Our board


Give brief biographies of your board
Highlight any experience or connections that are particularly relevant to your business
plan.
If you’re applying for social investment, it can be useful to highlight any gaps in your
board’s skill set, as investors are often keen to get involved as a non-executive director
(depending on your constitution).
If you’re a new organisation, it’s important to show that you can access a team of
people who have the skills and experience to support you as you grow. If these people
are not on your board, you can still include them here as ‘key advisers’.

9.3 Proposed management structure


Show how your people are organised and any planned changes to posts
If you’re writing a business plan, it’s likely that you’re planning to change your
management or staffing structure at some point.
Include a diagram to show how people are organised and any new posts that you plan
to create. You could use colour coding to show which posts already exist and which are
proposed. This is called an organogram; it’s a very useful way of helping the reader
understand why you need to invest in recruitment.
10. OUR IMPACT
Background
As a voluntary organisation, your business activities need to achieve both a social and
financial return. Your impact is the change that your organisation is going to make for
the people and communities you work with – this is your ‘social return’.
You should be able to communicate your impact clearly and concisely. You probably do
it every day when people ask you about what you do. You may already have an ‘impact
statement’ that works with your brand.
However, telling people about the difference you make will be much easier if you can
actually measure your impact.
Measuring impact doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult – it should be
proportionate to the size of your organisation. If you only have two members of staff, it’s
unlikely that you have time to conduct a full social return on investment (often shortened
to SROI) or other detailed analysis. But there are ways you can learn as you go along,
as long as you plan it in to your activity.
The Measuring Up Tool is a straightforward, step-by-step self-assessment tool that
allows you to review and improve your organisation’s impact practice.

10.1 Impact summary


Start by giving a short summary of your impact
Think about who is reading the business plan and why they might be interested in your
organisation’s social impact.
If you’re making a proposal to a funder or an investor, you may want to highlight any
areas where your impact meets their aims. If you’re a social enterprise, describe the link
between your financial return and your social return – will a greater social impact create
new opportunities to generate profit?
If you’re writing a business plan for internal use, make sure your intended impact is
clear and linked to your mission; this well help you keep focused and make sure that
you can measure your progress towards it.

10.2 Impact table


Describe your process for measuring, learning from and communicating
your impact
Put the information in a table, as in the example below.
You’ll find an editable version of the table in our business plan template; you can add
columns to it if you need to.
The change you Your impact statement or outcome.
want to make

What you plan to Indicators that will tell you that you’re making a difference. These can
measure be ‘hard’ (eg number of people in employment) or ‘soft’ (eg how people
are feeling – less isolated, more independent, able to cope).

How you will The process for recording information (eg one-to-one interviews with
measure it clients, outcomes STAR, referral data, independent evaluation).

How you will use What you’ll do with the impact data to improve your products and
what you learn service (eg board discussion, all-staff brainstorming/data review,
beneficiary focus group).

How you will Impact data is not just for internal use. It can be useful to share what
communicate what you’ve learned from your impact measurement. A short, highly visual
you learn impact report can be a fantastic marketing tool, and an opportunity to
bring together people and organisations within your sector at a launch
event or briefing.

11. COST AND INCOME STRUCTURE


11.1 Costs
Give a summary of your costs and expenditure
Although you’ll set out your costs in your financial tables, it’s useful to give a summary
of your main costs and timescales for expenditure. Again, this helps show how your
business will operate over the next few years. It can be helpful to think in terms of ‘fixed’
costs and ‘variable’ costs, to help plan your cash flow.
 Fixed costs: usually regular or one-off payments that have been agreed in advance, for
example rent, insurance and subscriptions. You can review these annually to make sure
you’re getting a good deal.
 Variable costs: less predictable costs that will change depending on your business
activity and volume of sales. For example, catering supplies and ingredients: you might buy
more ice cream in the summer and less in the winter; as you get more customers, you will
need to spend more on supplies.
It’s important to show that your costs (what you spend on resources) match your activity
– costs are likely to go up as your activity increases or as your sales volume goes up.
You may need to employ more staff, move to bigger premises or buy more supplies.
Items like insurance will be more expensive as you get more staff and more customers,
so make sure this is reflected in your cost summary and your cash flow.

11.2 Income
Give a brief description of your main sources of income
Make it clear whether you’ve secured the income (for example, a grant or contract that
has already been agreed) or if it’s an income forecast (for example, sales of your new
product or service).
If you’re heavily reliant on one source, describe any plans you have to diversify your
income or what you’ll do if you lose that income source.
If you have, or are applying for, any loans or social investment, set out your plans for
repayment.

11.3 Pricing
Describe your pricing strategy
If you’re trading products or services, use this section to describe your pricing strategy.
There are several different ways to set a price for your product or service.
Mark up Work out what the product or service costs to you, then add a percentage to get
the final price (eg cost + 10%).

Going rate Look at the competition to see what a typical price is and try to match it.

Market Set the price based on research with your target market.
oriented

Perceived Think about what value the consumer places on a product. It may be
value significantly more than the product is actually worth. For example, people often
pay more for branded goods even though the product is exactly the same as a
non-branded item, because they perceive it to be better or higher quality.
Pricing You may offer discounts for certain groups, or for early-bird payment, bulk
schemes purchase or off-peak use.

Psychology is important: remember that expensive items are perceived to be more


valuable by consumers, and many voluntary organisations underestimate the value of
their work.
Viable trading activity needs to give a surplus between the price and the cost, and your
costs may be higher than the competition’s. Make sure you have worked out how much
it costs to deliver your product or service before you set your price.

12. FINANCIAL FORECASTS


Background
This is the section that can make or break a business plan.
You might have a fantastic proposition, a great product and a passionate team, but if
your finances don’t add up, or your forecasts are unrealistic, it will let the whole plan
down.
If you’re not good with numbers, try to find someone who is to help you check that
everything makes sense. There are lots of free templates on the internet that will do the
sums for you.
We’ve produced some simple financial templates to get you started. But remember,
these are only as good as the data that you put it in. Financial forecasting is a best
guess of what your income and expenditure is going to be, so try to find out as much
information as you can about your costs, income and likely sales before you start to
work out the numbers.

12.1 Cash flow forecast


Most voluntary organisations will be used to managing a budget of some kind. However,
you may not be used to using a cash flow.
A budget is how much you have to spend on particular items over a specified period.
You would use this to manage a grant, for example. You know how much you have, and
you may have secured the income already.
A cash flow forecast is a prediction of your income and expenditure over a specified
period, usually 12 or 15 months. If you’re generating income from trading (sales), a cash
flow forecast is vital to ensuring that you have enough money in the bank to cover your
costs. It will also tell you if and when you need to borrow money, for example through an
overdraft facility or with a bridging loan.
You can manage cash flow by finding ways to spread your costs. Find out if you can pay
your bills by monthly Direct Debit, rather than in a lump sum. Review your suppliers
regularly and ask for new quotes at least once a year. Make sure you prepare for delays
in payments from clients – you might not receive payment in the same month that you
issue an invoice.

Complete the cash flow forecast


Follow the instructions below to complete the cash flow forecast in the financial tables
template. When you’re done, you can copy the table from Excel into your business plan.

How to fill in the cash flow forecast template


1. Enter the correct financial year in the top left cell.
2. Change the order of months in the second row if your financial year does not start in
April.
3. Add in your opening balance for month 1 in the yellow cell. This is the money you will
have in the bank before you start.
4. List your income sources in the first column (delete the examples in italics).
5. Enter figures against each income source, according to when you expect to receive that
income. For example, grants are usually paid quarterly in advance and contracts are often
paid quarterly in arrears (after you’ve done the work). Try to predict your sales forecast as
accurately as possible.
6. List your items of expenditure (delete the examples in italics).
7. Enter figures against each item of expenditure, according to when you think you will pay
for it. Some items will be the same every month, for example your rent. Others will vary
according to the time of year and your level of activity.
8. Write down any assumptions you’ve made about each item of income or expenditure in
the last column (delete the examples in italics).
9. Look at the bottom row (‘closing balance’). If you’re in the red at any point, you’ll need to
describe your plans to cover these periods, for example through an overdraft facility with your
bank. You can do that in the box below.

Summarise any assumptions you've made about your cash flow


For example, you might expect seasonal variations in sales or lower attendance during
holiday periods. Make sure you plan for annual increases to rates or travel costs.
Give as much information as you can in the assumptions column to help the reader
understand how you came up with your figures. If you need to cover periods of negative
cash flow, set out how you plan to do this here.

Describe how you worked out your sales figures


It’s hard to predict exactly how much you’ll sell, but if you have a good understanding of
your target market and a clear pricing strategy, you should be able to make a
reasonable estimate.
12.2 Costs table
Complete the cost table
Follow the instructions below to complete the cost table in the financial tables
template. When you’re done, you can copy the table from Excel into your business plan.

How to fill in the cash flow forecast template


1. Complete the cash flow table first.
2. The costs table will draw information from the cash flow table, so you shouldn’t need to
enter any information into the first or last column.
3. In the middle column, describe how you’ve worked out each cost and any assumptions
you’ve made about when that cost will be incurred. Make sure this matches what you’ve
entered in the cash flow. For example, if you think that most of your travel costs will happen in
May, June and July, make sure that is reflected by the figures in your cash flow table.

13. RISK MAP


Background
You’ve referred to risks throughout the business plan – you can summarise them here.
If you’re a charity, it’s your trustees’ responsibility to make sure that risks to the organisation are
identified and managed. Risk mapping is a useful exercise and easy to do with your board or
management team using a flip chart and some pens. You can also use our risk register
template.

You could include a full risk register in an appendix.

Set out your main risks in a table


Try to think about risk across everything that you do, including:
 governance risks, eg conflicts of interest, failure of leadership
 external risks, eg changes to the policy environment, a public complaint or bad press
coverage
 regulatory or compliance risks, eg failure to meet necessary standards
 financial risks, eg loss of major income source
 operational risks, eg loss of key staff, poor quality of support given to vulnerable
beneficiaries, failure to deliver products on time.
For each risk, decide how likely it is to happen, what impact it will have on your
organisation and what you can do to reduce or manage the risk.
Risk Likelihood Impact Mitigation tactics
Chief Low Medium Make sure knowledge transfer to heads of
executive department; assign secondary staff contact to all key
resigns networking contacts of the chief executive.

14. CONTACT DETAILS


If you’re sharing your business plan externally, include a contact for enquiries.