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Plans Can Fail but Planning Prevails

We learn so much from working with you all in this community of care and in our client engagements.  Every. Single. Day.  You awe us with your passion, your curiosity and your willingness to do things differently for the communities you show up for in your work.   For example, when it comes to planning, we’ve been trying for about 20 years to clearly explain why it matters- love it (Laura) or lump it (Sarah)A client reminded us of an elegant truth*: 


Plans are useless. Planning is essential.

We couldn’t agree more.

🔍 Anyone had a plan that became out-of-date immediately upon completion?

🔍 Anyone learn things about your org in planning meetings with your co-workers that you had NO IDEA about before you started planning?

🔍 Anyone learn a skill set they have or their colleague has (or doesn’t have) in a planning meeting?

For us: Yes, yes and yes!

Planning is a crucial tool for the health of an organization because it forces us to de-silo. To think boldly. To dream. To push outside of our comfort zones. To listen. To reflect.  


Yet, when times get tight—the budget isn’t looking great, the numbers are down, the grant is ending—many of us put those planning sessions on the chopping block.  It becomes too much time, too much money, too much distraction. We tell ourselves we’re tightening our belts for all the right reasons. But in the end, it starts to hurt us (hard pants, anyone?) more than help us.

Notice if you’re starting to squeeze yourself out of planning time and remember what you get from the planning process. You get new skills uncovered. You get cross-functional teams. You get self and organizational awareness. It’s the stuff you might most need when times are tough.

Today, we're opening our facilitation playbook to give you a hint of the goodness that planning offers. The conversation we're framing up for you is especially helpful before going into budgeting, whether you’ve had a great funding year or not. In fact, especially if it’s been a tough year.

Get together with your team and do/answer the following: 

  • Act like there is enough money to go around in our community/region/world. What would you do? 

  • Act like your mission is worth every penny of what it takes to fund it. What would you do? 

  • Act like your team has hidden superpowers that come out when you work together in new ways.  What would you do? 

  • Now, stop acting and remind yourself that the above are fundamentally true. There is enough money and resource to go around. Your mission is worth every dollar it takes. And your team is full of powerful players.  

  • Finally, ask yourself, what does knowing these things change for you?

Planning doesn’t have to be about the plan. It can be about the process and about what you learn along the way.  

And if you want a little more guidance on your planning journey...

Planning Made for People 

We believe that the people who are best able to assess your fundraising and engage in planning are the people doing the work. That’s YOU (and your team)! You know what’s working and what’s not. You have the hunches about opportunities – and the ones you’re missing. You understand the complexity of moving money to your mission.

All you need is the time and space and opportunity to share what they know and to ask the big questions.

In our Values-Based Guided Development Assessment, we’ll guide your team through four hours of expertly facilitated assessment dialogues and activities to help you celebrate the strengths, acknowledge the imperfections, name the challenges, and see the opportunities in your fundraising practice. Then, we’ll summarize it all for you in a written report with recommendations for taking your fundraising to the next level, support your decision-making and planning, and help you implement to move more money to mission.

You’ll finish with: 

  • A stronger, more cohesive and collaborative fundraising team 

  • A strategy and practice screen to guide decision making 

  • An actionable fundraising plan 

  • Tools for assessing your fundraising as you go forward  

  • More joy and ease in your fundraising 

Interested? Send us an email or schedule a free 15-minute consultation.

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