“What do you know about strategic planning?”
“Do you think we need a strategic plan?”
“Strategic plans seem like a lot of work to put together.”
Sound familiar? Most of my conversations with board members were a variation on this theme when I worked as a fundraiser: strategic plans sound like a great idea but an awful lot of work.
It’s true that creating a strategic plan involves a combination of meetings, research and writing. But if you’re willing to put forth the initial time investment, a strategic plan will pay dividends in your organization for years to come.
So why do you need a Strategic Plan?
Besides making budget, goals can be hard to quantify at nonprofit organizations. Visions and mission statements aren’t practical deliverables and that’s ok---they aren’t meant to be—but that makes it difficult to set goals and deadlines for programs. Want to “eliminate poverty” or “eradicate hunger?” Strategic plans help you break those lofty goals down into smaller, specific initiatives and measure your progress toward achieving the mission.
You’ve probably heard about how practicing mindfulness benefits you personally, but have you ever thought about how mindfulness could benefit your organization? Strategic Plans contain objectives and action items that help bring the mission into focus. Suddenly every meeting, new program or event has a clear purpose. Find yourself lost? Go back to the Strategic Plan, your organizational Center. Odds are, the answer is already there.
Many nonprofits are guilty of putting the board and the staff into silos with the Executive Director as the only go-between for communication. By its very nature, a Strategic Plan requires collaboration in both planning and execution in order to be successful. Board members need the staff to weigh in on the objectives and action items written into the plan and give reports on the success of those initiatives. Staff members need the board to share in the responsibility of achieving goals. Working together on the Strategic Plan can be an important first step toward a meaningful relationship between your board and staff.
Yes, friends, I am a Strategic Plan believer. If your organization is serious about growth, you should be too.
Katie Norris, Client Account Manager