Strategic planning is a key component of a successful and sustainable nonprofit organization. Strategic plans guide the board of directors and staff in prioritization of activities. Focusing on the goals and objectives of the organization helps to manage the day to day work. Strategic plans require care in their development. These 5 steps of the strategic planning process takes the best practices of strategic planning development and assists in creating a living strategic plan that works for your nonprofit.
Plan the plan. Starting a strategic plan requires preparation of all the resources needed to complete the plan. It’s important to gather history and current status of the organization. The organization may find having various groups and people complete an organizational assessment the most useful in determining necessary goals and objectives for the plan. The plan should include a reasonable time frame, around 6 months, and the people who can accomplish tasks of the plan. Also list all of your current programs and fundraisers with a budget for each (and your budget for your organization operations).
Speaking of people, it is important to include all stakeholders of the nonprofit in the development of the nonprofit. This includes the board, staff, other nonprofit organizations (competitors/collaborators), donors, volunteers, businesses, foundations who have given you money and even the community at large. Listening and gathering information from all these groups can mean different types of information gathering. This can include surveys, large and small meetings of various stakeholders, and assessments. By identifying the correct stakeholders, seeking their input and listening to the feedback, the organization can have a better idea of what needs to be done to truly meet the community need and find more people to help in the strategic planning process.
Nonprofits should always keep their mission in mind. Sometimes the mission changes, if only ever so slightly, and when this happens it is beneficial to review and even change the mission statement. This is part of the strategic planning process and sometimes is best accomplished with a independent facilitator. Sometimes the board will determine that nothing needs to be done with mission and/or vision statements. Other times the board notices that their programs are not matching up with their mission. This critical part of the strategic planning process will guide the rest of the strategic plan as the priorities, goals and objectives align with the purpose of the organization.
Now it is time to perceive your priorities, goals and objectives. Take your existing operations, programs and fundraisers and identify if there are things you should stop doing, increase or start doing. Remember, this is a three to five year plan and what and how you will be doing your activities is important to clearly state. Come up with a handful of priorities such as 1 for your operations, 1 for each program and 1 for fundraising. Now assign goals for each priority. Next identify actionable objectives and state the person or people who will be involved in completing each of these tasks. Accountability is key to implementing your strategic plan.
Perform the plan is more than a one time action. In order for the strategic plan to be successful make sure your board reviews it and the goals and objectives at every meeting. Staff and volunteers should have their pieces of the plan and be held accountable for completing the tasks of the plan.
Performing includes evaluating with key metrics and outcomes. The success of the plan requires every stakeholder to do their part and the board to be actively ensuring the implementation and success of the plan. This will prevent have dust accumulate on your strategic plan.