Free Example UK CIC or Charity Business Plan Template

This free practical, CIC or charity business plan template (with examples) enables anyone to write a great charity business plan.

UK CIC and Charity Business Plan Template - 3 Steps

I've used the term charity business plan and as an example. Your business plan is what you aim to achieve in the coming year.  However, this planning template and checklist will work just as well for project and other plans, and will work just as well for your CIC or other non profit

The only right way to carry out planning is whatever way works for your charity.  This resource provides a simple 3 step process to use as a template and checklist to create your plan, goals, objectives and KPIs, with examples.  Follow the process below to create a business plan that will work for you.  That could be anything from a one page plan in Word for a very small CIC to a substantial, detailed business plan for a large UK charity.

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Your objectives (or goals) are what you must achieve to deliver your charity business plan.  These can either be long term (strategic plan)) or nearer term, such as annual business, fundraising and project plans.

Charity Business Plan Objectives - Strategic Plan

Often strategic and business, or other annual plans can be seen as quite separate, but these are not.  Next year's business plan, is Year 1 of your strategy.  Looking at your strategic plan objectives, what must you achieve in the coming year to deliver these?

Strategic Plan Objective Business Plan Objective
1. To ensure every homeless person in Aylesbury can have a hot meal each day To increase the number of meals we deliver to 500 this year

Charity Business Plan Objectives - Operations

You also need to ensure that your charity continues to be well run and delivers the high quality support you want it to.  Look at your operations, such as delivering services for your beneficiaries, fundraising, finance, people and other activities.  What are the key activities and what must you achieve in these areas areas?

Operations Business Plan Objective
1. Fundraising To increase trust fundraising income to fund the provision of additional meals
2. Facilities To refurbish the Hall to make it much more welcoming, with better services, including upgrading the kitchen


Trying to measure everything would take a huge amount of time and most won't really matter.  Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the key targets you use to measure and monitor your progress to achieving your business plan objectives.

Measuring Charity KPIs

There are really only 3 things you might want to measure - quality, quantity and time.  And, these are interlinked.  The public sector is particularly prone to what are called perverse outcomes.  Focussing on a single KPI measure, to the exclusion of the others that nobody thought about, but which turn out to be really important.

  • Increasing quality, often increases cost or takes longer to do.
    • Buying higher quality fresh food and/or preparing food from scratch, rather than buying in pre-prepared.
  • Increasing quantity, often increases cost and/or takes longer to achieve.
    • Preparing more meals and/or extending opening times.
  • Reducing time, often reduces quality and/or costs more.
    • Using pre-prepared ingredients and buying more equipment/expanding kitchen capacity.

You don't need to measure all 3 for everything, if the other factors aren't important, or won't change.  I've provided some examples of planning KPIs below.

How To Set Business Plan KPIs

In order to ensure you deliver your charity business plan objectives, you need to be able to measure these and monitor progress.

The first step is to set KPIs for each objective using SMART – that is your KPIs are Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Timely and Relevant.

You then need to decide who will be responsible for delivering and reporting these, any milestones in terms of when activities will be delivered and how and when these will be reported.

Business Plan Objective Number 1
Targets SMART Measures Responsibility Timescale Notes
Provide more hot meals Deliver 500 good quality, hot meals to homeless people Ian By year end To be reported to board in quarterly reports, including stats on beneficiary feedback. Last year 431 meals delivered.
Increase fundraising Submit 10 good quality trust bids for total of £100k, to achieve income of £25k Ian By year end Last year raised £20k from 7 bids.  Engage bid writer to submit additional bids, with funding in budget for this.  Bid numbers and amounts, actual and forecast in board reports
Refurbish Hall Agreed refurbishment delivered on time and on budget Jim April Contract let Dec, work begins Jan.  Funding in budget £10k.  Progress updates at board meetings.

Once you've set your KPIs, ask yourself if these are the key issues you need to monitor and manage to deliver your business plan objective. Are there any KPIs you don't need and is there anything missing that you do?  And does each KPI meet the SMART criteria above?


The Charity Excellence Data Store tracks sector resilience and a key theme is a lack of realism in charity planning.  Ambition is a hallmark of the sector, but 'Aspirational' is the flip side of planning to fail, if that involves committing people and resources to plans that aren't achievable.  Here are my ideas to help you ensure that your business plan will succeed.

Business Plan Reality Checklist

For your business plan to work, you need to be able to confidently answer 'yes' to each of the questions below.  That's about making an objective assessment of each.

  • Our charity business plan includes everything that's important to us that we want to achieve
  • Our objectives and targets are realistic and achievable
  • We will have enough people, with the necessary skills and experience to deliver our plan
  • The key risks have been identified and quantified
  • We have taken adequate steps to manage these, to ensure no risk remains unacceptably high
  • There is adequate funding in our budget to resource all of our business plan objectives
  • Our fundraising targets are realistic and we are confident that these should be achieved
  • We have contingency options to manage any unforeseen eventualities.
    • For example, not launching a project until funding is secured, or having plans to scale back activity
  • Our business plan has been communicated to everyone who needs to know about it and it is simple, clear and will be understood by them
  • The information reported focusses on the key issues and will enable us to take action in good time, if we need to

Congratulations, you have created a simple, clear and effective business plan.  If you are unsure about any of the above, revisit your plan and make any changes you need to.

Communicating Your Charity Business Plan And Making It A Success

The World is full of detailed and beautifully crafted plans sitting on shelves gathering dust.  In any, except the smallest of charities, it is your staff and volunteers who will deliver your business plan, so they need to know what you want them to do and feel motivated to do so.  If you e mail a big complicated plan to everyone, it may not be read and, if it is, may not mean much to its readers.

You need to communicate your plan in a simple, clear way that engages them. It also needs to be reflected in any other plans or procedures. For example, your budget and risk plans, any project plans and, for larger charities, appraisal objectives and departmental work plans.

For reporting, sometimes reports are too 'fluffy' or nor easily understandable, or far too long and complicated.  Often these can be simply rubber stamped by boards.  Ensure that your reports meet your needs, focus on the key issues, are clear and understandable for trustees, and acted upon.  Here's the Charity Excellence guide to making reports more effective and less work.

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To access help and resources on anything to do with running a charity, including funding, click the AI Bunny icon in the bottom right of your screen and ask it short questions, including key words.  Register, then login and the in-system AI Bunny is able to write funding bids and download charity policy templates as well.

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