In our professional lives, buzz words are thrown around like hot potatoes. And we’ve all known that co-worker, boss, or client who uses corporate buzz words more than adjectives.
ROI, synergy, corporate responsibility, pivot, disintermediation, efficiently operationalize strategies, leverage core competencies. Sometimes (maybe most times) these words mean nothing. However there’s one buzz word that can’t be ignored.
Strategic planning is your organizations road map. It’s a defined strategy for the organization that helps to clearly defines how your nonprofit will achieve its mission. At its core, strategic planning is all about setting goals, and putting your nonprofit in a position to reach them.
Whether your nonprofit is run by a board, a handful of employees, or by members of your community, the onus almost always falls squarely on the shoulders of the executive director to develop and ultimately meet the goals set by an organization’s strategic plan.
So how is a strategic plan designed, developed, and ultimately implemented? Here are the basic steps that are involved in developing a strategic plan.
Before starting anything, it’s important you take a step back, and realistically asses your nonprofit’s mission, external opportunities, challenges, and even its strengths, and limitations.
Now that you’ve laid the ground work for your strategic plan, and you understand what factors will limit and propel your organization forward, it’s time to start developing your strategic plan.
To make sure your strategic plan is an actionable one, and not another document that goes unused, take a few of these steps.
• Involve relevant people from both within and outside of your organization. The more input you get from informed voices, the more polished your document will be.
• Break your strategic plan into more manageable tasks. Breaking down a major organizational plan into manageable tasks give your nonprofit and its employees achievable intermittent goals.
• Stay realistic. While you should be thinking big, it’s important that only things that are realistically achievable should go on your strategic plan.
Now that you’ve drafted a strategic plan, it’s time to put that plan into action, and implement your strategy into your organization.
Communicate your goals and ideas to the rest of the organization. Make sure there is an open dialogue, and any questions that employees might have can be shared either in an open forum, or in a 1-on-1 way. Consider drafting a version of the document in a more user-friendly way with more bullet points and images.
Make sure everyone understand what’s expected of them in this new plan, and what tools they’ll be provided to help them meet those expected goals.
Working from the outside in ensures your nonprofit is accounting for factors outside of its control. Everything is constantly changing around us. Economic, social, and technology are all factors that are in a constant state of flux, and directly impact how we run our organizations. By acknowledging these things, and planning for them, you’re preparing for future issues and developments.
Additionally, understanding your organization’s strengths and limitations is key to understanding what your nonprofit can or can not conceivably achieve in its strategic plan.