Planning For Organizational Survival: Part One

Sections of this topic

    Part One: Planning For Organizational Survival

    Non-profit organizations (NPOs) exist to provide services that would not otherwise be available to many in the community. Too many NPOs fail to survive, however, because the people responsible for their creation aren’t fully aware of what it takes to effectively provide for the needs of the community.

    Non-profits are usually created by a relatively small number of caring people who “want to help.” The majority of those people have little more than their good intentions to sustain them, and they create their NPOs without many of the “tools” that would help them tip the odds in favor of long-term survival.

    Success requires a strategic plan that defines the organization’s mission, direction, and future, a plan that details all the activities necessary for the NPO to pursue its mission, and the funding needed to support those activities;

    Success requires a development plan that defines the appropriate fundraising activities for satisfying those funding needs; and,

    Success requires leadership committed to doing whatever is required to ensure that the people who need the services of the organization can get those services.

    Since you can’t be everything to everyone instantly, you have to begin somewhere. The first step in the process, therefore, is to realistically define the extent of the services you want to provide, to whom, and in what timeframe.

    You must then identify what supplies, equipment, and personnel you will need, and in what timeframe; whether all work and services will be provided by volunteers and/or paid staff; where those people will come from; what experience/training they will need; and, what all of that will cost.

    Once you’ve identified what it will cost, the next step is to identify sources of income.

    Will you charge a fee for your services, or will you have to “raise” the money? Unless you know that the need you are satisfying is of a short-term nature, you must be sure that your funding sources will be there over the long term. And, so you can track your progress and tweak your plans accordingly, definitive goals are essential.


    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating, or expanding your fundraising program, your major gifts fundraising program, or a capital campaign? Email me at With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs, and the planning studies to precede these three, we’ll likely be able to answer your questions.