Non Profit Orgs Don’t Plan to Fail, They Fail to Plan
You’ve heard it before, strategy is important because it’s a roadmap for your organization to align their goals in the right direction. But why is it REALLY important? A nonprofit without a strategic plan is like a teacher without a curriculum, a sports team without a game plan, a business without a business plan. Organizations that perform at the highest levels have some sort of formalized strategic plan, including renowned organizations like the American Red Cross, the World Wildlife Fund, and Livestrong.
A strategic plan refers to a coordinated and systematic process of developing a plan for the overall course and direction of an organization to optimize future potential. Strategic planning is a means of establishing major directions for a nonprofit organization and is a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future.
A nonprofit strategic plan steers the organization on the path to success. It is the framework that determines where an organization is going over the next year or more, how it’s going to get there, and how it will know whether it got there.
Finally, and most importantly, do not engage in strategic planning if your key stakeholders are unwilling to commit time, money, and effort to the venture. Without such an investment, planning is a useless activity.That said, it’s important to approach strategic planning as a collaborative process. Your board and high-level staff should be actively engaged in the development of your plan. This generates buy-in, ensures diversity of thought and involves them in fundamental choices about the direction of the organization.
Should cover 3-5 years and should contain the following elements:
- Mission Statement
- Vision Statement
- What you hope to become
- Provides motivation to the Board, staff, volunteers and donors
- Organizational Assessment (SWOT Analysis)
- Reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the organization so you can focus on areas to improve
- Current conditions
- Strategy you will use to achieve the goals identified leading toward the vision of what the organization should become.
- Issues-based: examines issues facing organization, develops strategies to address those issues
- Goal-based: focused on organization’s mission, vision and values, strategies to achieve those goals
- Organic: articulate organization’s vision and values, all actions adhere to identified values
- Evaluation Plan
- The plan is ultimately no more and no less than a set of decisions about what to do, why to do it, and how to do it.
- Strategic plans imply that some organization decisions and actions are more important than others – and much of the strategy lies in making the tough decisions about what is most important to achieving organizational success.
- Implementation of strategies
- Vision of the future
There is no single right approach to do strategic planning. The most ideal approach to do it is the way that best suits or serve your organization. That is going to rely upon your resources, capacity, engagement of your staff and board, and the objectives of your organization.