A strategic planning process enables a nonprofit company to fulfill the goals of its mission. Strategic planning should be looked upon as dynamic rather than static. Defining it this way reduces the sense that the strategic plan has to be perfect and set in stone. The plan should be always in a process of renewal, responding to changes in the market landscape, to the company mission, to changes in leadership at the company.
One tactic to engage nonprofit boards with strategic planning is to reference the strategic plan in the agenda for board meetings.
What’s the difference between business planning and strategic planning?
A business plan explains the “who/what/how/where/when” and typically will answer questions such as: “Who are the nonprofit’s “customers?” “What is the geographic area for the nonprofit’s services?” “What other nonprofits are providing similar services?” and “What services does our nonprofit deliver that are unique?” A business plan is the action plan, identifying the tasks, milestones, and goals, but also identifying the potential for success and the potential risks ahead, given the nonprofit’s “competitive advantages” and the environment in which it operates.
The strategic plan takes all that the business plan has identified and answers “how” the desired results will be achieved, such as, “How will we accomplish all this with limited resources? What will we prioritize? How will we acheive more ambitious revenue goals?” Other questions that a strategic plan might answer include: “What needs to happen so that we can achieve success?” and “How will we measure success?”
Elements of Strategic Planning
Identifying Your Nonprofit:
What is the scope?
What is the geographic service area?
What are the demographics of program participants?
What are the demographics of donors?
What are the programs?
What are the funding sources?