Does your organization have a strategic plan? How recently was it formed? What are you doing with it?
A strategic plan is a roadmap. If done well, it will be owned by the board and staff. It covers the next 3-5 years. It is driven by your mission, your values, and perhaps your vision or long-range scenario of what you want your organization to look like.
Your plan usually begins with some kind of grand strategy, your “big hairy audacious goal” (BHAG)as Jim Collins puts it, and is usually focused on growing from where you currently are. This growth could be in quality, maybe it is an expansion of what you currently do, perhaps some geographic reach, or some new programs. It may also include some capacity building – beefing up your nonprofit with more effective fundraising, facilities, administrative support, marketing, cash reserves and so on.
All of these will take two or more years to complete. If they take more than five years you can take some partial interim steps. Instead of saying you will build a building, your strategic initiative may be to plan for or even locate a site for a building
These multi-year initiatives take you beyond the daily work, and add steps that have long-term consequences. They get the wheels turning. And they move toward the big long-range picture of your future.
Every strategic plan needs to include some annual goals for the first year. Every year the strategic plan needs to be revisited. Where were we going? How did we do? Why? And then, where are we going in the next year. In the second year the strategic plan will start to go out of date, become a bit stale. After year two, more plans are drawn. And at the end of year three, a new strategic plan needs to be created that reflects your current realities.
Once again, a plan is your roadmap. It will guide you into the future. Do you have one for your organization? If not, the time is now. Get moving. Plan your planning. Get some help. Do some studying about strategic planning. And get doing. It’s never too late.
For more information be sure to check out my book Board Essentials: 12 Best Practices of Nonprofit Boards