Strategic Planning for Non-Profits

Do you have a Strategic Plan for your organization?

A Strategic Business Plan defines your mission, your vision, your values, and your goals and how you are going to reach them. Whether you’re an established nonprofit organization or just getting started,  a well thought out Strategic Business Plan will assist you in achieving the success you desire. It should involve all the stakeholders within your organization that influence your organization and be well documented so that it can be shared back with your future board of directors, staff, the populations you impact by your mission.   

Positioning of today’s thinking –  Strategic planning is a tool for changing your mode of functioning from “reactive to proactive.” You anticipate, plan and create the future. It will stimulate creative thinking about what the future can be. Are you prepared to change?

Benefits – An important benefit of the process is team building that is nurtured by an inclusive process. Strategic planning will:

  • Stimulate ingenuity and new approaches
  • Increase everyone’s investment in the Tumbleweed
  • Develop a common vision
  • Clarify values and beliefs
  • Anticipate opportunities and obstacles
  • Provide a framework for day to day decisions
  • Create a marketing and fundraising piece
  • It gives you a road map to follow. The plan can be an excellent public relations piece for funders as well as a blueprint for Tumbleweeds growth.

Why use an professional facilitator?

Our role is to help drive the process without influencing the content. Our first objective is to create a safe environment so that everyone involved feels free to share their ideas and concerns. Our next objective is to get everyone engaged, there are no good or bad ideas and everyone needs to contribute. We can ask the hard questions others within the organization may be reluctant to, if there is an eight hundred pound elephant in the room, tells us and we will address it in a non-threatening manner and then chase it out. If you desire we will plan each meeting’s agenda, and ensure the group and the planning process stays on track.

Strategic Planning Model

The following Strategic Planning Model is the path Beartooth Business Consulting uses successfully with other non-profit organizations. We realize every nonprofit is unique and we will tailor a strategic planning session to fit your organization and to meet your desired outcomes.

Tools needed –

  • Strategic & Operating Plan Template
  • Terms document
  • Work plan/Schedule
  • Note taker
  • flip chart
  • Markers
  • Sticky notes or round stickers
  • Whiteboard

Questions for your Board before you proceed:

  • Your Objectives/Expectations
  • To create an efficient well managed organization where all the stakeholders work together to fulfill your mission, vision and values of your organization and are held accountable for their contribution.
  • What are your objective(s)
  • Time Frame for the Strategic Planning Process?
  • How many years ahead is the focus of the plan, 3 years or 5 years? 1-year/3-years
  • How do you intend to keep stakeholders informed of the progress during the project?
  • Is there a budget for meetings?
  • Are you prepared to facilitate change?
  • Who are the two or three members of your organization who will champion and be cheerleaders for the completion of this process and facilitate change?

Phase One: determining where we are and where we want to go.

Getting Started – Questionnaire

  1. A questionnaire can be sent out by the BBC to board members, team leaders and staff asking for their input. Questions might include
  • If I were running your organization what would I change? (Board, Team Leaders, Staff)
  • What one thing will make your organization succeed? (Board, Team Leaders, Staff)
  • List three strengths of your organization, (Board, Team Leaders, Staff)
  • List three weaknesses of your organization, (Board, Team Leaders, Staff)
  • List three threats of your organization, (Board, Team Leaders, Staff)
  • List three opportunities of your organization, (Board, Team Leaders, Staff)

Strategic Brainstorming Session with Board of Directors

Mission/Vision/Values. These three words and their respective statements will guide your organization through its long term strategy, long term goal setting, short term objectives, and how you will conduct your business in order to fulfill your mission and ultimately realize your vision. Create and/or clarify your organization’s Mission, Vision and Value Statements. Are they current with what you do, do they represent the values you want to represent as an organization, has the vision of your organization changed or broadened since you first got started. These are all valid questions that should be answered during this exercise. These statements should be defined so they are commonly understood, publically stated so that all stakeholders can see them and shared both internally and externally of your organization.

Dream As a Group. A visioning session is a time for dreaming.  What do you ultimately want to achieve as an organization. In a perfect world what would the world be like if you reached your vision. A vision may not be something that can ever be realistically reach but is still worth striving for. As an example I have a client whose vision is to “forever end youth homelessness in their community”. Is that realistic, possibly not, but what if they did, what a better world we would live in.

Clarify the Mission. After the vision statement is written, go through a similar exercise to define the organization’s mission.  Remember a mission statement describes “why” the organization exists.  Vision and mission statements should be used for decision making so it should reflect the importance of what the your organization is trying to accomplish.

Define Organizational Values. Once a vision and mission statement is drafted, break into groups once again and allow another 20 minutes or so to come up with a list of values. These will become the shared values that the organization operates by.

SWOT, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

  • Strengths and weaknesses are current to the organization
  • Opportunities and Threats exist outside the organization and refer to the future.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses of Leadership Team
  • What changes are impacting your organization
    • Internal
    • External
    • Today
    • Five years from now
  • Critical Issues for the future
  • Opportunities for your organization? Current/future
  • Threats to your organization? Current/future
  • Fundraising limitations/opportunities
  • Community Engagement
  • What is the role of the Board
  • Contributions of Individual Board Members

Strategic Goals

  • What are the five to ten most impactful goals for your organization? These goals should be SMART, specific, measurable, applicable, realistic and time measurable. They should also include:
    • Timeframe to be realized
    • What resources will be needed
    • What is the expected outcome

Strategic Brainstorming session with leadership Team

The same workshop that was described with the board is repeated again with the staff’s leadership team or a broader staff audience if you choose. It always amazes me how each group can look at the same challenge and/or opportunity quite differently. Obviously for the staff it is their job, possibly career and a volunteer job for the board.

Joint meeting Board/Leadership Team ½ day

This collective session can be done with the ED, three board members and select members of the leadership team or all participants of both meetings. The larger the meeting the longer this meeting will take.

  • Discuss results from both meetings
    • What are the Similarities.This doesn’t need a lot of focus as it is common ground.
    • What are the differences, this is where time and focus needs to be spent. In the end while everyone might not agree everyone should have an understanding of the other groups opinions.
  • Come to consensus on the five to ten most impactful Strategic Goals for your organization

Once this combined session is over the organization should move forward as one with a common sense of mission.vision and values. Any disagreements over strategy should be addressed in the coming days and the final agreements be communicated to all parties.

Phase Two: Communication with Stakeholders

Once the strategic goals are defined and a supporting operating plan is created to show how they will be achieved you should communicate your Strategic goals to all your stakeholders. If your organization is large enough to grab the attention of the local press. Hold a press conference or send a press release. The larger the audience the better.

  • Board, Official adoption
  • Leadership Team
  • STAFF
  • Outside Stakeholders
    • Press
    • Donors
    • Volunteers
    • Past Participants

Phase Three: Ongoing Monitoring

In order to track progress and hold responsible parties accountable quarterly reports should be conducted within departments then roll up to leadership team and the ED  and ultimately the board.

  • Quarterly Goal/Objective Review
    • are our objectives still relevant?
    • Progress towards goals?
    • What has changed and/or is affecting our business?
    • Are there new goals that should be considered?
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