Seize the Opportunities in Strategic Planning
Updated: Mar 31
Through our decades of experience contributing to nonprofit strategic plans and working to execute and to fund them, we have learned a few things that you can use to shape your own planning. In our fast-paced, opportunity-rich environment, good strategic plans must be both lasting and flexible. We believe strong plans combine two key things:
Enduring vision, mission, values, and organizational strategies that guide your work for the long-term
Evolving goals, objectives, and programmatic and operational strategies and activities that move you toward your vision and mission
If you and your organization are committed to capturing both the enduring and the evolving, you’re on your way to a strong planning process. You’re aiming to bring your organization three things:
Clarity of purpose
A road map for the future
The ability to nimbly respond to opportunities that build nonprofit and donor relationships for strong, vibrant, and just communities.
Hopefully, you like lists, because we have a few other key points for you to consider when you’re figuring out how to start your planning process, hire a consultant, or talk with your board about strategy. When we work on strategic plans, we’re focused on a result that is:
Inspiring: All the key players – board members, leadership, staff, volunteers, nonprofits, and donors – need to be excited about the vision and your organization’s strategy.
Strategic: It seems obvious, yet many plans don’t get all the way there. It’s critical to name core organizational strategies for fulfilling your mission.
Grounded: Organizational plans must be grounded in their communities. In addition to analyzing community data and trends, it’s important to hear directly from those who benefit from your services.
Understandable: People have to get it. Your plan needs to convey the impact you want to have on donors and nonprofits, why it will matter, and how you’ll make it happen in clear and simple terms.
Shared: The vision and strategy need to be held collectively by the board and leadership. There needs to be agreement on and commitment to the vision and strategy.
Useful: Your plan should be a tool you use every day. It should help you make decisions and set priorities. It will help you tell your organization’s story. The plan will provide indicators to show you whether you’re making progress.
Flexible: The only constant in this world is change. And it’s coming fast. Your strategy must be strong and pliable to remain your guide as your ecosystem evolves.
Strategic planning is an opportunity to pause and remind yourself of your ‘why.’ To recognize and celebrate what has been accomplished. To reflect on what’s working. To ask why it’s so hard. To align your people and resources.
If you’re ready for a partner to execute on your strategic plan process or just want to bounce some ideas off someone (free office hours!), we’re here to help you seize this opportunity and reap the rewards that come from strategic clarity and a workable plan.
You have an inspiring story to tell. When you complete strategic planning, you’ll know where you’re going and what it will take to get there – essential for inviting others to join you on your journey as staff, volunteers, advocates, donors, and cheerleaders.