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Strategic Plans: An Essential for Nonprofit Success

Sometimes nonprofits and ministries think they are too small for a strategic plan or “not quite ready.” But a strategic plan is a nonprofit essential.  I encourage all nonprofits to engage in a strategic planning process.  Over the next few weeks, we will look at the strategic planning process and what it can and should involve.

Today, we will begin by looking at WHY; as part of why, let’s also understand just what exactly a strategic plan is and isn’t.

According to the dictionary, the word strategic means to implement a strategy. A strategy is defined as “a plan, a method, or maneuvers for obtaining a specific goal or result.” So, a strategic plan for an organization or ministry is simply a plan to reach a desired goal or result.  Unfortunately, far too many organizations never take the time to think about where they want to go and what “getting there” will look like.

As part of the strategic planning process, organizations will want to spend time with its leadership to include board members, key staff, and perhaps even some key volunteers. This process is not limited to one or two board members and the Executive Director.  Since everyone has a unique perspective, gaining input from the entire board is absolutely essential. It is easier to get buy-in from everyone if they participate in the creation of the plan.

When we talk about strategic planning, the process begins with a review….

  • Look at the mission statement – is it still accurate and appropriate? Does it need to be tweaked or entirely revamped?
  • What is the vision for those served in the next 1-3 years? (It is important to note that we used to say 5-7 years; however, our world is changing so fast that it is difficult to plan accurately beyond three years).
  • What has the organization been doing really well?
  • What has the organization been doing not so well?
  • What is the organization known for in the community? Does this align with who/what the organization wants to be?

Why is a Strategic Plan so important?

This is a question that many nonprofits ask. In the busyness of day-to-day service, why take the time to engage in strategic planning? Why spend the money to plan for the future?

When organizations do not take the time to plan for where they want to go, they will usually end up somewhere else. Usually, that somewhere else is not where they want to be. When we plan strategically, we can map out a course to where we want to go.  Of course there will be surprises and obstacles along the way, but with a strategic plan we can keep our eyes focused on the goal.

A strategic plan enables the organization to identify its clients and how it will serve them. It is impossible for organizations to serve everyone, so the target audience needs to be tied back to the mission or purpose.

The strategic plan outlines a goal for the organization… a path into the future. To keep the organization on track, the Executive Director and staff are responsible for implementing the plan laid out by the board of directors.

If your organization has never engaged in a strategic planning process, perhaps now is the time to begin thinking about it. If we can be of service, contact us.

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