Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” - Alan Lakein, writer
I love this quote. It absolutely gets to the heart of why strategic planning is so important for any nonprofit organization. In almost every aspect of our lives we run through a similar process: envision, plan, then execute. Followed by: evaluate, readjust, and continue.
Having a plan for your nonprofit is critical for success. It’s your roadmap for how you are going to get to where you want to be. Without that map, you may end up someplace completely different than you thought, or nowhere at all.
I have been involved in nonprofit organizations for several years in a variety of capacities. Some of them had strategic plans, some didn’t. I can say with confidence that this isn’t always something we think about. We’re here to serve. To help. To support. To make the community a better place.
Often times we’re entrenched in the “right now” and don’t have the luxury to think about the “what’s next?”
But I’m here to tell you: find the time. Make the time.
Just about a year ago we began the process of actually planning for strategic planning. We laid out, as a board and CEO, the steps we needed to take. The Idaho Nonprofit Center has made great gains in the past several years but the time had come for us to take an organized approach to planning our future.
Here are the steps we took to just get to the point of planning. However, there’s never a one size fits all approach. Each organization should do what makes sense for them.
Once we selected our consultant we went to work immediately. I won’t dive into the details of our work with the consultant because each organization is unique in its needs and its place in this process. I mostly want to share the up-front work that went into this process and emphasize a few key points for all of us:
Finally, your strategic plan should be used every time you convene your board and your staff. It becomes your road map for where you want to be. I am using my strategic plan to draft annual operational plans that assign accountability to appropriate team members, whether that be the board or my staff or one of our committees.
The process for us took about a year from end to end, but it was totally worth it and I look forward to implementing the plan over the next three years. Everything we planned for is to serve you, our members, and the nonprofit sector better than ever.
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