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Understanding the Importance of Business Planning

By Nonprofit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team (NESsT). This article is part of the NESsT Case studies Series.

Executive Summary

Ruhama Foundation is a Romanian civil society organization (CSO) founded in 1996 under Government Ordinance 26/2000. Originally established as a community development organization implementing projects for marginalized Roma communities, Ruhama has grown into an established organization that manages a variety of programs in the fields of community development, social services (accredited by the government), and professional trainings (certified by the National Council for Adult Professional Training).

Over the past several years Ruhama started a series of self-financing activities to increase its financial sustainability. Facing increasing difficulties to fund its core program and projects, the organization felt it had no choice but to identify selffinancing
ideas and to generate its own income. Some of these activities resulted in successful new programs that now form an integral part of the organization’s mission and strategy; others were discontinued or put on hold until more resources could be identified. While self-financing activities contributed to the rapid growth of Ruhama, they have not always met their original financial objectives. However, the organization is determined to launch new incomegeneration services in the future to further improve its sustainability.

Ruhama has had little difficulty identifying and launching self-financing activities, but managing and growing these activities has been a great challenge. Recruiting someone with the appropriate business skills and willingness to work in the CSO sector where salaries are lower than at for-profit companies is a limiting factor on the impact of the self-financing activities.

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