Strategic Planning in the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit organizations need more than a mission statement and a purpose to serve in order to meet today’s multitude of challenges. Engaging in a formal strategic planning process can help you define your organizational goals, and develop the appropriate action steps to advance your objectives.

Savvy public administration professionals know that a good strategic planning process will include:

An honest assessment of your organization as it stands today.

Not only will you want to meet with key members of your organization, you will want to have all relevant documentation available beforehand. This includes financial statements, marketing plans, metrics from fundraising efforts, and other information that will tell the story of your nonprofit’s current status.

A list of objectives that you want to accomplish.

The important thing here is to be realistic. This might mean identifying tier one and tier two goals, in order to break your list up into manageable chunks. Your objectives should measurable and easy to understand, while also inspiring the people within your organization.

A plan to secure the necessary funds and resources to meet your goals.

Once you determine how much you need to accomplish you goals, it makes sense to analyze your past fundraising efforts to measure success rates. Updating those that worked best is a good place to start. In addition to monetary resources, your strategic plan should also include action steps for securing in-kind donations, recruiting volunteers and attracting new corporate sponsors.

A marketing strategy for identity-building and awareness.

As resources get tighter for nonprofits nationwide, it is more important than ever to go to market with a cohesive message about your organization and the need for funds. This means investing time and energy in the creation of a professional website. You’ll also want to leverage digital communication tools and social networks like Facebook to spread the word. Save your printing and mailing budget for large fundraising blitzes.

A way to measure your efforts and assess your progress.

Agree to meet on a periodic basis to discuss your progress toward key milestones. You should have hard numbers to compare against, along with anecdotal measures of good news. This can include making valuable new media contacts, finding a volunteer to handle your social media postings or getting an accountant who will work pro bono. There are many things, tangible and intangible, that can add up to success.