Strategic Planning Process: What Is A Strategic Plan
For nonprofits, a strategy provides the guidance necessary to keep administrators and volunteers organized. Moreover, strategic planning assists in assuring the core principles of the nonprofit are the primary focus of all efforts.
By definition, strategic planning is a disciplined effort to produce decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it. It is a process that produces fundamental decisions that shape and guide the management of an organization. This process focuses on both the internal and external environments in which the organization functions.
Effective strategic planning & analysis for nonprofits
Effective strategic planning features an assortment of business concepts and techniques including SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), PEST (Political, Economic, Social, and Technological), STEER (Socio-cultural, Technological, Economic, Ecological, and Regulatory), and EPISTEL (Environment, Political, Informatic, Social, Technological, Economic and Legal) analyses.
In order to determine the most effective strategic planning process steps, an organization needs to know exactly where it stands, where the organization foresees going, and what the most critical issues are that it must address in order to ensure goal realization. Strategic planning is such development and is viewed as a process for determining where an organization is going over the next year or more, typically 3 to 5 years, although some extend their vision further or more greatly limit the timeline based on their stage of life. A comprehensive implementation plan then can be developed to provide a detailed action plan for addressing identified strategies.
Effectively plotting the direction of a company is greatly aided by a strategic plan. However, strategic planning cannot circumvent socioeconomic change (e.g., a collapsing stock market and declining economy). Therefore, strategic plan implementation, innovation, trial and error have to occur for an organization to thrive within an uncertain business climate.
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An outline for the basic strategic planning process generally includes an analysis of what is current, and business strategy for future efforts. Areas of focus include:
- Organizational background
- Formal and informal mandate identification
- Regulatory compliance
- Stakeholder analysis
- Values and mission evaluation
- Trends and events
- SWOT analysis
- Critical issues
- Goals, objectives, and strategies
- Organizational vision of the future
Strategic objectives featured within a strategic plan generally include:
- Marketing strategy
- Resource development strategy
- Capacity building strategy
These key points help nonprofits to set attainable goals, define its core purpose and effectively plan for the future. Having such information in one cohesive document not only provides organizational guidance but a level of professionalism that supporters will sincerely appreciate.