Creating a Cash Flow Business Model for Your Nonprofit

Using a business model has grown to become an essential tool when making any business or financial decisions within the nonprofit sector. When incorporating a new business model, a few key components should be discussed to ensure the business model will not only provide financial stability but also further the growth of operations within your organization. Along with understanding the financial side of a new business model, it is important to factor in the daily tasks that occur in a business, including cash flow—money being transferred in and out of an organization. 

Cash flow can be simply defined as a movement of money within the organization’s accounts. It is where the numbers and financial reports show how the money has moved and how it’s been accounted for. When managing cash flow, the question you will be asked repeatedly is “When?” —when do you pay your staff, when will you be receiving a grant payment or  when is a particular bill due. And while all nonprofit business models are different in one way or another, they all rely on the “when” with the movement of money. 

When creating a nonprofit business model, there are two main components to factor in—what kinds of programs and services does your nonprofit offer to the community and most importantly, how are they funded. Each of these components require the understanding of organizational cash flow in order to have effective financial planning. To further understand what kinds of programs and services a particular organization offers, you would look at where and how money is being spent.

When looking at how an organization is funded, this can provide a better understanding of what’s to come in terms of cash coming into the business. If by chance the cash flow doesn’t quite match up with the services offered, this could be further explained by how the organization receives its funding. Each type of income varies based on certain implications and challenges for cash flow, so if a business model is built primarily around one type of funding, this will have to be factored into the structure of the business model.

Creating a smart and strategic business model requires you to be informed and collaborative in cash flow management. This will ensure that your nonprofit’s long-term strategy isn’t hindered by obstacles that could have been avoided.