Strategic Planning: Its not just for nonprofits anymore


When I started doing strategic planning work with my nonprofit clients, I would tell them that it's just a business plan, but for a nonprofit. But something felt ‘off’ in that statement. It was a great way to get my clients to comprehend the need to have such a plan and the types of things that would go into a plan, though, so I continued to use that analogy for a while.

Until one day I decided that I, personally, needed a strategic plan. It seemed a bit silly, but there were things in my life that I wanted to work toward. I wanted a clear roadmap to help me determine what types of things I would need to do to help me achieve these goals and when I should do them for maximum impact. And, of course, I also wanted to know how long it would take me to reach such achievement. (Yes, this is me in my personal life. I’m the life of the party with my spreadsheets and budgets!)

That’s when it hit me – strategic plans aren’t just for nonprofits. Everyone should have a strategic plan! Ok, maybe not personally – I don’t expect everyone to rise to my excited nerdiness – but strategic plans are such a great roadmap and tool for goal achievement, and I believe any business would benefit from it.

What I love about strategic plans is that they:
  • make you think about your short-term goals.
  • define your goals in measurable ways; otherwise, how would you know when you get there? How would you know when to celebrate?
  • are a roadmap for your next 1-3 years (throw out any 5-yr plans you have! If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that you never know what surprises next year might have for you.
  • are meant to be reviewed and amended regularly. They’re meant to be ever-evolving just like your business...and the world.
  • define metrics and benchmarks to hit along the way, so you’ll know if you’re getting there! Without them it would be like running a marathon and having no idea if you’re on mile 2 or mile 20.
  • identify the cost considerations of achieving your goals so that you can adjust your budget accordingly.
  • outline the ownership of the tasks needed to achieve each goal and give you the opportunity to add in potential beneficial partnerships.
Here’s an oversimplified example of one goal you might find in a well-written strategic plan:

Goal: Create organizational committees and populate (Owner: Full Board) 

  • The board of directors will form the following committees: Development, Education, Events, and Marketing & Outreach. 
  • Each new committee will be chaired by an existing board member. 
  • All board members are expected to serve on a committee and nominate community members to approach regarding committee service. 

Tools & Resources

  • Select from the organization’s current pool of volunteers to populate your committees
  • Define clear expectations of time investment, responsibilities, duties, etc. You can do this by creating Committee Charters

Metrics & Benchmarks

  • Committees will be populated with at least 2 board members and 3 community members by February 1, 2022
  • Committees will set a regular meeting schedule by February 15, 2022
  • Each committee will have a FY2023 work plan and projected budget presented to the full board by April 1, 2022

Budgetary Considerations
N/A 

Potential Partners

  • Town government
  • Local banks
  • Local schools
  • Chamber of commerce


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