As a nonprofit leader, you have a lot going on. It can be tough to know where to focus on any given day.
- You’re competing for precious fundraising dollars.
- You’re being asked to do more with less.
- You’re responding to desperate needs in difficult circumstances.
For these reasons, it’s important you collaborate with other organizational leaders to define priorities and plan strategically for the future. It’s not enough to create a plan just for the sake of having a plan.
A friend of ours once said, “people become a part of that which they help to create.” When applied to strategic planning, that one little sentence hits like a ton of bricks!
When we ask a board or other group of people to approve a plan they were not engaged in developing, it unintentionally keeps them from any ownership. They see it as someone else’s plan. And it is!
And when your board and staff leaders are not engaged in the plan, you miss out on experiencing the real benefits of strategic planning. For example:
- Improved time management – With the board involved in the development of the plan, you can reasonably consider the things you should STOP doing because they no longer fit within your priorities. You can work with your team to ensure their roles rally around the plan and how they will contribute to the strategic priorities.
- Permission to say no – A leadership-driven strategic plan provides a great litmus test for knowing when to say yes to new ideas and gives you permission to say no in a way that allows you to articulate where your organization is focusing its impact and why.
- Improved staff and board management – A strategic plan is a wonderful board and staff management tool. It gives you the ability to clearly define roles and encourage that culture of philanthropy we all seek to create within our organizations. This culture is also key to retaining great people. With a strategic plan in place, your board will have a better understanding of your fundraising goals, especially if you plan on launching a large-scale fundraiser like a capital campaign.
- Priorities to focus on – Your strategic plan is a tool used to remind your leaders of the organization’s priorities – priorities THEY helped develop! It can help keep the conversation focused during board meetings and make sure your strategy is always front and center, especially when considering new projects or programs.
- Increased understanding of the need – When your staff and board leadership come together to work on future plans, it’s a great opportunity to discuss the challenges you face and how few resources you really have to accomplish your goals. It’s important to use this forum to address the real needs of your organization and how an investment in the operation can lift the overall mission.
- Your mission’s sales points – Board participation in strategic planning can help you clarify your organization’s mission so it stands out from others in the marketplace. There is no downside to getting the input and perspective of people “outside” of your organization.
- Real measurement and results – Strategic planning gives you and your board the opportunity to discuss and agree upon desired results. When they help make these decisions WITH you, board members are more likely to set reasonable outcomes (versus unattainable ones). They’re also more likely to understand their role in achieving those outcomes.
The benefits of strategic planning are real and great, especially when involving your board and staff leaders.
Make sure you invest the time and resources necessary to foster the right kinds of conversations and collaborations to create your next strategic plan. The benefits to your mission and the people you serve are real.
If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Contact us to start the conversation.
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