4 Essential Ingredients in Strategic Planning
It was my first capital campaign from the start. With the help of counsel, we were doing things right. Soon we had the momentum to raise more money than the original goal. But we had no idea what the school’s next priorities would be, and we had passionate donors wanting to make a difference.
So we began a strategic planning process, engaging many constituents to determine our future direction. As a part of this, we were able to discern capital and program priorities to add to the campaign. Armed with this future vision, we increased our success dramatically.
A strategic plan is essential for your organization to determine its future, provide focus and align resources. Through a planning process, you identify the great things about your organization to protect and what priorities need improvement.
With an effective strategic plan, you are required to make decisions (including deferring opportunities) that align with strategies.
After decades of facilitating planning processes, here are Lighthouse Counsel’s ingredients for successful strategic planning.
1. Make planning a process
Smart strategic planning takes time; it can’t be accomplished effectively in a daylong retreat (most volunteers and staff cringe at giving up an entire day). Ideas germinate over time, and to make sound decisions, you must have the right leadership (board, planning committee and staff) at the table and a skillful, unbiased facilitator.
You need the right people involved in the process to achieve buy-in and obtain the best insight about what your key constituencies believe about your organization and need. It’s also essential to do research (through interviews, focus groups and surveys) to uncover perceptions and insight that you can balance with facts, such as trends in your industry.
When you embark on a planning process, you can place parameters on what elements are up for review, such as your organization’s vision or mission statement. We believe you should look at both every cycle.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.