Strategic Planning for Successful Nonprofits
Strategic planning for your nonprofit or charity
Dictionary.com defines Success as the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors. To become successful in life, one must have a plan of action or strategy. In order for a nonprofit to be successful, the organization must also have a plan. Most commonly, nonprofits refer to what is called Strategic Planning.
What is strategic planning?
A Strategic Plan is a management tool that is used to guide an organization to its goal. An effective strategic plan will include specific goals and format a plan including the steps, actions, resources, and funding you will need to achieve those goals. Most of the time, the strategic plan’s focus will be on the organization as whole, rather than a specific product or service, as with a Business Plan.
Strategic Planning serves several purposes to operating a successful nonprofit. The strategic plan will place focus on the more important issues and goals of the organization, it will help ensure proper use of resources (time management, financial resources, individuals’ talents), will highlight the company’s strengths and weaknesses and show where improvement may be needed. A strategic plan will also give a sense of security and structure to show where the organization currently is and that there is a plan in place to get the organization where it needs to be. As times, needs, and some goals may change, so should your strategic plan in order to keep up-to-date with the latest and most accurate information pertaining to your organization’s mission and goal.
When is it time to construct a strategic plan?
There are several times when it is appropriate to construct a Strategic Plan or revise your initial/current plan. It is never too late to implement a plan for your nonprofit. Initially, strategic planning should be done when an organization is just getting started. As a new organization, you will need to outline your plan of action to success. Your plan should be revised every 2-4 years in order to keep it accurate.
While there are times when strategic planning is appropriate, there are also times strategic planning should be avoided, or perhaps postponed. While it is always beneficial to have a strategic plan in place, there are valid circumstances where the draft of a plan should be cancelled or postponed. Any kind of “trauma” would be a legitimate reason to postpone this process. “Trauma” may include the loss of an executive or influential board member or worsening financial difficulties. You shouldn’t begin constructing a strategic plan if there is no chance or possibility of the plan being executed, or “put to work”. If your key people are unwilling to commit time and effort to achieving your nonprofit’s goals, then a strategic plan would be pointless.
However, if you are like many, you have a strong Board of Directors, or team of people behind you and who are on board with your operations and are willing to provide the support and effort necessary to accomplish the goals outlined in your Strategic Plan. If an example of a strategic planning outline is not available, search for a business management consulting company that can discuss the details with you personally – such as CharityNet USA – and review items including the meaning of strategy and its role within your organization.
Don’t get confused…the Strategic Planning process is NOT meant to finalize to make future decisions. Strategic planning may anticipate future circumstances but the final decisions are to be made when and if the occasion actually arises. Your organization should continuously remain “open-minded” to new situations, circumstances, and occurrences. Some of these new uprisings will benefit your organization. Change is not always a bad thing. Keep an open mind with the purpose of making the best possible decision to further benefit and grow your organization. Strategic planning is not a substitute for leadership.
For more information regarding Strategic Planning for Nonprofits, please feel free to call at 407-857-9002 or contact us online today.
Wanting more? Check out our prior blog: What is a Strategic Plan