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Operational plan

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This section should describe the day-to-day operations of your business: how your business works, your key milestones and your timetable for action.

Milestones and timescale

Set out milestones for your organisational aims in a table

Milestones are important achievements that allow you to move on to the next stage, for example the development of a new product, the purchase of a building or the launch of your website.

Set milestones for each of your organisational aims. Put the information in a table, as in the example below.

You don’t need to include every single activity that you plan to carry out: list the main activities and milestones that show your journey towards your aims and that demonstrate you’re doing things in a logical order.

If you want to refer to a more detailed project planning table, such as a GANTT chart, put it in an appendix.

Aim 1: We will improve access to literacy training for adults in North East England.


Describe or list the resources that you need to operate your business

These might include:

  • premises
  • equipment
  • transport
  • knowledge/access to information
  • IT.

Note whether you have these things already; if you don’t have them, explain how you plan to access them.

Partners and suppliers

Describe the people and organisations you need to work with to carry out your business

These might be:

  • delivery partners: organisations that you work with to carry out a programme of work, run a campaign or develop a product or service; referral agencies; active sponsors
  • suppliers: organisations who provide resources that are essential to your work, for example equipment, materials or premises.

Briefly describe your relationship with them

How long have you worked with them? Why you have chosen them? Do you plan to review the relationship?

Many voluntary organisations work with others because their beneficiaries may be involved with other support agencies. If you’re a small organisation and you want to bid for a large contract, you may need to be part of a consortium to be eligible to tender.

Make sure you highlight any risks associated with these relationships, for example any instances where you’re heavily reliant on one partner or supplier. Show that you’re aware of the risks and describe any plans to reduce or mitigate these risks.

Premises and equipment

Premises and equipment can be one of your biggest costs. Your business plan should show how your costs relate to what you’re trying to achieve, so it’s important to show why you’ve chosen to invest in specific premises or particular equipment.

As with any part of your plan, the reader should be able to see that these costs are realistic and relevant to your aims.


Describe the type of premises that you need

  • Where do you carry out your business?
  • Do you need any particular type of premises in order to operate? (For example, you might need a training room, a kitchen or a gym.)
  • Why are your premises important to what you do?
  • Have you you’ve managed to find and secure premises? If not, set out your plans to do so.


List the equipment you need to operate your business

This might include:

  • IT equipment
  • catering equipment
  • teaching supplies
  • play equipment
  • disability aids.

If you need specialist equipment, say what you need and why you need it. If there are alternatives, set out why you’ve chosen that particular equipment.

Transport and logistics

Describe your process (if any) for transporting goods and services

This may not be relevant to all voluntary organisations. If your work is office based and you don’t send out any products to customers, you may not need any transport or logistics (beyond the Royal Mail).

If you do need to transport goods or services, use this section to describe how you do it.

  • How do you get things from A to B?
  • Is this the most cost-efficient way of doing things?
  • Do you own your own vehicles? Do you need to purchase or hire a vehicle?
  • Are you reliant on a particular transport provider?
  • Do you have any time constraints (for example, if you’re working with fresh food)?
  • Do you post products out to customers? How do you manage this process?


Describe your payments process

How do people pay for your products or services?

There are lots of different ways to take payments, including:

  • one-off cash or credit transactions (online or in person)
  • Direct Debits
  • membership schemes (accumulated credit or pay-per-use)
  • loan or rental schemes.

If you take payment online, how is this managed? Do you have an online store? How do you ensure that payments are secure?

State any legal requirements relating to your business activity and whether you’ve met or are working towards them

Many voluntary organisations will already adhere to certain standards that relate to their beneficiaries, for example if they’re working with children or vulnerable adults. However, you may need to meet additional legal requirements to carry out your business activity. For example, if you’re preparing food, you’ll need the correct licenses and certifications for your kitchens.

State whether you’re VAT registered and if you qualify for any exemptions.

You may also wish to include details of any legal, financial or other professional advisers that you work with.


As a voluntary organisation, you’re likely to have more than one type of insurance, including public liability, professional indemnity, employer’s liability insurance, buildings insurance, contents insurance or events insurance. Some of these may be required by law or by your constitution.

State what type and level of insurance you have or will need

Depending on your activities and who you work with, insurance can be a significant cost to your organisation.

State how often you review your insurance provision to ensure that you’re getting the best value for money.

If you’re using your business plan to apply for funding or investment, you could include quotes in the appendix.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 04 July 2022

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