Focus Your Nonprofit with a Strategic Plan
By Sam Frank of Synthesis Partnership
If Strategic Planning strikes you (or your board) as a tedious, formulaic waste of time, think again. Don't give up! Not only is planning essential to the health of almost any nonprofit, but it can also be invigorating, enlightening and morale-building. Engage your board and staff with your strategic plan, by improving the design and execution of the process. Even if you think that strategic planning is a thing of the past, read Stanford Social Innovation Review's article The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy. for discussion of how to use flexible strategies in a rapidly changing world. For the real value of strategic planning, see my article Critical Issues #1 Why Plan?
There is no "best" way to develop a strategic plan. Every organization needs to follow a process designed to reflect:
- The nature of the organization (many or few constituencies; how large, engaged, and dispersed they are; size and culture of staff; role of the governing board).
- The prior planning experience of the staff and board
- The life-cycle stage of the organization (new, thriving, mature, stalled, troubled). Find out where your organization lies with the guidance of Nonprofit Management Services' The One Hour Organizational Assessment ($5).
- The nature of the changes your organization is facing—or creating. Read about how to create an action plan to follow through on your changes in my article Critical Issues #15 Strategic Action.
When conducted effectively a strategic planning process will:
- Help you to adapt to changing circumstances. For some strategies, download TCC Group's Change Management: Strategies to Help Nonprofit Leaders Make the Most of Uncertain Times.
- Focus operations and measure results. Read about the importance of metrics and how to design them in my article Critical Issues #8 The Measure of Success Metrics.
- Draw on the wisdom and experience of all of your stakeholders.
- Cultivate all of your stakeholders, and engage their wisdom, their enthusiasm and their giving.
- Develop organizational strength and leadership. If you think your nonprofit doesn't have the resources for leadership development,save time and identify new opportunities to apply for fellowships with Trista Harris & Co's Foundation and Nonprofit Fellowships ($15).
Join Sam Frank of Synthesis Partnership on March 20th at 1:00 pm Eastern (10:00 am Pacific) for a free webinar Strategic Planning Part 1: Cultivation & Organizational Development, and on April 10th at 1:00 pm Eastern (10:00 am Pacific) for Effective Strategic Planning Part 2: Getting Results.