What is Strategic Planning?
Strategic Planning is the process of developing a vision for the organization’s future and determining the necessary priorities, procedures, and operations (strategies) to achieve that vision. Included are measurable goals, which are realistic and attainable, but also challenging; emphasis is on long-term goals and strategies, rather than short-term (such as annual) objectives. Strategic planning is ongoing. It is “the process of self-examination, the confrontation of difficult choices, and the establishment of priorities”.
Benefits of Strategic Planning
- It permits discussion of issues in a proactive rather than reactive mode. Usually developed in an atmosphere that encourages creativity and brainstorming, the strategic plan may not only include concrete directions, but also provide an institutional set of core values. In a typical board meeting, there is simply no time to engage in a meaningful discussion about the long- term future of an agency. Many nonprofits are operation on the edge of financial chaos, often one failed grant application away form having to lay off staff or fold entirely.
- It requires an action plan to solve real problems faced by an agency. The action plan is a template that the staff causes to implement the policies and desires of the board. Many CEOs complain that the board helps with solving problems, but fails to provide direction on the core values of the agency. A strategic plan explicitly includes those core values, and assists the CEO in creative strategies for solving current problems and anticipating future ones.
- It provides a formal mandate for the reallocation of resources to respond to changing conditions, and the means to obtain additional resources if required. A successful strategic planning process that develops an aggressive plan to attack problems often energies a moribund boards.
- It builds inter-board relationships that might not otherwise exist, and creates a partnership among the board chairperson, board members, staff, funders, and other stakeholders. Each has a role that is defined in the plan and, if bought into, the added responsibilities increase the available resources of the agency. The social contact that occurs at many board retreats, particularly those designed in bucolic settings away from the hustle and bustle of the agency, cement personal relationships among participants. This improves the bond between the agency and its leadership.
- It provides a mechanism for the board, staff, and agency stakeholders to become more informed about the activities and problems faced by the agency. It promotes in many, cases, a frank discussion by the agency executive of problems that might not be shared within the context of a conventional board meeting. Many CEOs welcome the process n that it takes a burden off their shoulders and shares it with the agency’s constituents.
- It provides an opportunity to focus on the forest rather than the trees. It is easy for a CEO to become lost in the mundane issues of personnel, budgeting, office management, board relations, and public relations, and virtually ignore issues relating to the actual purpose and mission of the nonprofit.
Attorney Karmen A. Booker has developed a “Nonprofit Handbook” that provides strategies and tips for your Nonprofit 501(c)(3) Organization. This Handbook is a valuable resource for all Nonprofit Organizations who desire to use effective tools that will undoubtedly yield quality services for their target markets. The Handbook focuses on the following:
- Protecting Your Nonprofit Corporation’s Tax Exempt Status
- Duties of Nonprofit Organizations
- Building Your Nonprofit’s Board
- Getting Charitable Donors for Your Nonprofit
- Strategic Planning
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