Often confusing and even intimidating, strategic planning is nothing more than setting an organization’s long-term goals and the plan to achieve them. It clarifies purpose and direction, focuses the organization’s activities and resources, and helps ensure sustainability.
Basic Strategic Plan
A basic strategic plan is:
- a governance activity entrusted to nonprofit boards
- a set of goals and tactics designed to help an organization perform its mission and ultimately achieve its vision
- a guide to balancing often conflicting priorities and allocating resources
Developing Your Strategic Plan
High-level process for developing your strategic plan
- Start with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) or similar analysis
- Draft a plan
- Discuss, test, modify and then accept goals
- Develop action plans for implementation
Implement the Plan
Strategic planning often gets a bad name because organizations fail to implement the plan. Recent studies show that only 12% of strategic plans are fully implemented. So, it’s vitally important to allocate leadership’s time to implementing and managing the plan after it’s approved. Here’s a suggested model:
- Leadership team takes a day away every 90 days to an off-site location to avoid interruptions and temptations to go back to your desk
- Cell phones off and no emails – be fully present at the meeting
- Review past 90 days and set course for next 90 days
- Ensure the organization is furthering the goals of the strategic plan
Goals of Strategic Planning
- A single, clean, up-to-date database – the life blood of the organization. There are up-to-date policies governing its use and procedures that ensure the data stays up-to-date.
Fund development plan that reasonably projects revenue needs and strategies for meeting those needs for the next three years.
- Clear program policies and procedures as well as the supervision to ensure they are followed.
- Regular measures, assessments, and evaluation of program and administrative effectiveness.
Communication plan that uses all available media to best reach their target audience(s) with appropriate frequency.
Succession planning for key roles in the organization (staff & board) – both short-term for sudden absences and long-term for planned absences.
Nonprofit World, Sep/Oct 2012, by Lisa Dahmus & Lynn Perry Wooten