Should Participate: When the group involved is
larger than 15 members, it may be beneficial to form a sub-committee
that drives the process. To give the plan credence, the committee
should have the highest level members of the organization involved,
such as the CEO/President and Board Chairman. Be sure to involve
Board members who have an historical perspective, are passionate
about the process and will champion the importance of the strategic
plan process. You also may want to involve important committee
chairs, the entire Board, representatives of the community you
serve and key staff members to ensure that a realistic plan
with a common goal is developed.
Preparing for the Meeting:
Determine the specific purpose of the plan. Are you developing
an overall direction for the organization? Or are you focusing
on specific issues such as the need for additional sources of
funding, modifying services to better meet the needs of the
community or growing the number of people you serve?
The meeting will be most effective in a comfortable place free
from interruptions and distractions. Often, it’s best
to go off-premises. Develop an agenda and hire or appoint someone
impartial to facilitate the discussion. Agree upfront that creativity
is desirable, so no idea will be judged immediately as impractical
or undesirable. (Sometimes such suggestions can spark other
extremely positive ideas.) Appoint someone to record the essence
of what the group discusses and decides.
||Assess the Current External and Internal
Environment: Prior to the meeting, examine the relevant
factors outside the nonprofit’s control that can affect
its performance. This analysis should cover external trends such
as funding, legal and regulatory requirements, the economy, technology,
politics, demographics, availability of volunteers and potential
collaborators, as well as a review of the competition. (Yes, nonprofits
compete for funding, volunteers, clients, etc.) You also should
include an internal analysis of relevant areas such as Board operation,
programming, marketing, fundraising and staffing. Formulate assumptions
about the future and the impact of these assumptions on your organization.
Focus on Important Strengths, Weaknesses,
Opportunities and Threats: Strategic planners
use this technique to help organizations assess their external
environments and internal capacity. In order to plan for the
future, ask yourself these questions:
• Strengths: What advantages does your organization’s
services provide? What do you do well?
What do you have that your competitors don’t?
• Weaknesses: Where is there room for improvement? Where
does your organization need improvement? How would the community
describe your weaknesses? What does the competition have that
• Opportunities: What’s happening in the marketplace
that you can take advantage of? What new, useful technologies
are coming? Are there demographic changes that could increase
the number of people who need your services? Could you collaborate
with other organizations to deliver your services or share
administrative functions to reduce costs?
• Threats: What outside events or competitors are waiting
to hit you when you’re not looking? What potentially
harmful regulations are on the horizon? Are funding sources
Define (or Redefine) the Organization’s
Mission: An organization's mission statement is
its compass. It guides and it inspires. It is a focused statement,
usually no more than one or two sentences, that is easily communicated
and describes the purpose of the organization to ensure all
stakeholders share the same view. Your mission statement should
- Purpose of the organization
- Community to be served
- Needs to be met
- Methods to meet that need
||Build Consensus Through a Collaborative
Process: Working collaboratively will build strong
buy-in from the leadership team. With a clear and consistent vision
of where the organization is headed, the organization is more
likely to operate in concert to reach its destination, regardless
of the situation encountered.
||Map Out an Action Plan: Organize
the nonprofit’s objectives and tactics into key areas to
make them easier to process and prioritize, to allocate resources
and to coordinate with other departments and functions.
Budget for the
Strategic Plan: The strategies and tactics that
you choose will affect funding, expenses and staffing requirements
to differing degrees. You need to consider the potential impact
of the strategic plan on each objective, so you can prioritize
them and include them in future budgets.
||Target Completion Dates:
Be realistic in setting target dates. It’s important that
you resist the temptation to set extremely ambitious timelines.
In most cases, the tactics you’ve agreed on will be accomplished
by people who already have a full day's work. Staff member must
be given sufficient time to achieve their assigned objectives
or the plan will be viewed as impossible to accomplish.
||Coordinating and Monitoring the Strategic
Plan Process: For maximum sustained results, an
overall coordinator should be appointed to execute and monitor
the progress of the strategic plan. This person should be part
of both the strategic planning taskforce and the sub-committee
driving the process.