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4. Our market

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Guidance on writing the 'Our market' section of your business plan.

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.

Page last edited Jun 18, 2018

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