Key Steps for Creating a Nonprofit Strategic Plan
Nonprofits have plenty of different options for techniques and models to use to craft their strategic plan. The way you choose to develop your plan depends on your goals, needs, the unique situation within your organization and the climate of your community or cause area.
No matter what the circumstances are, all nonprofits can benefit from a well-thought-out, structured planning process.
Aly Sterling Philanthropy recommends an individualized strategic planning model that focuses on strengthening your organization’s financial health, capacity, effectiveness and relevance within the community. The process involves a partnership with an experienced nonprofit consultant who brings robust planning tools and resources, and your nonprofit leaders themselves who bring insider knowledge of your organization.
The essential steps of this strategic planning approach include:
The strategic planning process begins with a pre-planning session between the consultant and organizational leaders. In this meeting, you’ll take a deep dive into your organization to assess its history, infrastructure, core programs and vision for the future.
Another element of the pre-planning process is surveying stakeholders to gather insights and opinions. Depending on your nonprofit’s situation, your stakeholders may include:
- Current and past board members
- Current and past annual, major and planned giving donors
- Influential community members such as political leaders, foundations or trust officers and church leaders
- Prominent business owners
- Volunteers and staff
- Certain recipients of your services, such as patients, alumni or consumers
When conducting these interviews, it’s important to choose participants carefully. Seek a variety of perspectives and don’t just survey those with nothing but glowing reviews. Get in touch with those who’ve expressed discontent with certain aspects of your organization. These perspectives can provide the tough love needed to help your organization grow and become more effective.
Supporter surveys are also a great way to continue your supporter stewardship efforts. Supporters are typically flattered to be asked to participate and offer their points of view.
The next step Aly Sterling Philanthropy recommends is engaging your board and staff members in a dynamic strategic planning retreat. This encourages organizational leaders to consolidate and discuss their thoughts in a dedicated, action-oriented forum.
Within this short, half-day retreat, leaders will establish priorities and start to visualize what success looks like with the help of the consultant. In this time, the consultant will build consensus and seek suggestions for short and long-term opportunities and hurdles.
In the final strategic planning step, the consultant will summarize their findings and offer a recommended plan of action to nonprofit leadership. The consultant will review the highlights and top insights from the planning retreat to highlight key priorities.
This partner will continue to provide dedicated support as your nonprofit identifies responsibilities for each leader, key objectives, performance indicators, and a timeline for completion. This encourages accountability throughout the implementation process.
In the Aly Sterling Philanthropy strategic planning model, a consultant will lead your team through each step of the process. This specialist facilitates everything from managing the stakeholder surveys to the planning retreat and final strategic plan document.