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Business Plan Writing

Alex Wilson, the founder of RISE Worldwide, approached Catchafire after piloting the organization’s impact model in Tanzania. He had recently founded the nonprofit and was looking for an expert with strong business sense to help center his business plan.

The challenge

Alex had the basic aspects of a business plan written (mission, vision, values, goals, timelines and various development models) but he needed an outside perspective to help him articulate the plan as well as identify any gaps.

OBJECTIVES

  • Develop a comprehensive business plan that encompasses an impact model, modes of attracting funding and a staffing model
  • Gain a fresh perspective on the organization’s goals and strategies
  • Create an internal guide to align the organization’s day-to-day operations and goals

The Match

  • Alex posts a Business Plan Writing project
  • Debbie applies for the project
  • After a two-way interview call, Alex and Debbie accept the match

“As an entrepreneur myself, I worked on my own business plan and I’ve also been asked as a friend to look at other people’s business plans. Part of the reason I chose this project is because it’s something that I would do anyway. The other part is that I liked that Alex had already travelled and done a prototype, instead of just having the idealist sense of what he wanted to do.”
- Debbie

The Solution

  • Alex shares his existing materials with Debbie.

  • Debbie and Alex meet for an in-person consultation to review goals for the project, discuss intended uses for the business plan and provide initial feedback.

  • Debbie leads Alex through the business plan writing process. Alex focuses on creating a short three-page business plan following the guidelines of a specific grant he was applying for.

  • Debbie and Alex analyze RISE Worldwide’s market and competitive landscape to discover the most effective ways to position the organization with similar organizations.

  • Debbie helps Alex quantify his objectives and performs a SWOT analysis.

  • With Debbie's guidance, Alex drafts the three-page business plan that fits the requirements of the grant application.

  • Debbie and Alex work together to revise the business plan.

  • Once all feedback is incorporated, they reflect on the project and discuss future applications for the business plan.

The Result

A comprehensive business plan and adaptable resource that can reflect any direction the organization pivots.

“It was fantastic working with Debbie. She’s an invaluable resource.”
- Alex

"I’d like to emphasize that working on a business plan with a nonprofit is very similar to working on any business plan. The elements of a business plan are very similar for a for-profit and a nonprofit to be successful in getting funding. A nonprofit really needs to consider the elements of a traditional business plan. They should approach their organization with a business mindset because at the end of the day, funders use quantitative analysis. Mission, goals and value are certainly part of the equation but the other part of the equation is how much is it going to cost to reach those results and how are you going to manage your organization's finances."
- Debbie

The Impact

With Debbie’s guidance, Alex started thinking more strategically about his business plan and the organization's goals. Using his new and improved business plan, Alex successfully obtained important meetings with a major funder.

“It was really great to be a young social entrepreneur and be paired with someone who is very like minded but who had been through the ropes before. It has essentially set us up for scaling, so that we are able to grow into other communities. I hope to continue all of the relationships I’ve cultivated through Catchafire past the project. Whether they be on a mentor or professional basis or more as a friendship or support network. In all of our projects I feel like it’s almost been an equal opportunity, the professionals are helping us ten-fold but I‘m trying to give back to them as well.”
- Alex

“Alex’s enthusiasm for his project is completely infectious. It was really rewarding for me to work with someone who has so much pride and joy in their project. For me, getting to meet Alex was the most rewarding part of the Business Plan project because he is so outstanding. He is so driven and committed, it’s inspiring.”
- Debbie

Debbie’s 50-hour project resulted in $8K saved for RISE Worldwide.

The Organization
RISE Worldwide is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit that puts youth at the forefront of catalyzing positive & sustainable change; using a proven 4-month immersion program, RISE enables youth to develop innovative & practical models to address pertinent problems facing their local communities. During our initial pilot, RISE was able to inspire 100 twelve-year-old children to solve the water crisis for 2,000 people in their rural community. We believe children are capable of changing their own communities and the future by hand.
The Volunteer
Debbie is the business development director for the Colville Tribal Federal Corporation, in eastern Washington, where she is responsible for diversifying company ventures and attracting investors to the Colville reservation. Prior to CTFC, she was an independent film producer in New York City for five years. Previously, Debbie was president and CEO of OmniVidia, an early video-on-demand service, where she developed content licensing strategy, directed marketing and managed product development in order to bring high-quality films to discriminating consumers before Hulu andNetflix Streaming became household names. Debbie also worked as a project manager at the Prudhoe Oil Fields before she entered a career in investment banking at SGCowen and ABN AMRO.