In an increasingly competitive, resource-strapped world, great nonprofit strategy is less a luxury and increasingly a necessity. Without an overall strategy, a nonprofit is relegated to the world of “doing good work,” instead of the world of “making a real difference.” And these days more and more funders, supporters, advocates, partners and decision makers are requiring that nonprofits do more than just good work.
Smart nonprofit strategy can completely transform an organization. It will:
- Create Momentum. To really tap into people’s potential you must inspire them to larger heights and help them understand their role in reaching those heights. A great strategic planning process does that.
- Attract Deeper Funding. People and organizations that make large gifts to a nonprofit are in effect investing in the future of that organization. And if you can’t articulate your future plans in a thoughtful, compelling way, funders won’t make that larger investment.
- Filter Future Decisions. A great strategic plan doesn’t tie an organization’s hands, rather it becomes a lens through which you can thoughtfully analyze future decisions and make the best moves for your organization.
- Become a Management Tool. An effective strategic plan doesn’t sit on the shelf, but rather is a living, breathing guide to the daily work and decisions of the organization. It’s not a final product, it’s a way of life.
- Realize More Change. A great strategic planning process forces you to do the analysis, conduct the research, make the hard decisions, and track your progress so that at the end of the day you actually are making a difference.
Here are the 8 basic steps Nell takes nonprofits through to create a strategic plan:
- Create a Team: With the leadership of the nonprofit, Nell creates a strategic planning group made up of key board members, management staff and external stakeholders. This group meets periodically to guide the process, do the analysis, and create recommendations for the board to review and approve.
- Analyze the Internal Situation: Nell takes the group through a series of analyses and exercises to articulate the nonprofit’s value, understand their core competencies, calculate the financial and social impact of their programs, and more.
- Analyze the External Environment: The group also takes a hard look outside the organization by mapping the marketplace in which they operate and researching their competitors and collaborators (those providing similar services in the community) and consumers (funders and clients) in order to understand the organization’s unique niche.
- Refine Vision and Mission: Given this internal and external analysis, Nell helps the organization revisit and refine their vision and mission. The vision is the social change the nonprofit seeks, and the mission is the day-to-day activities of the organization driving toward that vision.
- Develop Goals and Objectives: Nell then helps the organization determine what they want to accomplish in the next 3-5 years. She leads the organization to create 3-5 broad, measurable, achievable goals in the specific time frame of the plan. They then break each goal into 3-5 measurable objectives to get there.
- Create the Financial Model: A successful nonprofit realizes that goals cost money and there must be a plan for the revenue and expense necessary to execute on the. Nell works with the organization to create a multi-year projection of revenue and expenses based on the goals of the strategic plan.
- Operationalize the Plan: For each objective, Nell helps the organization create an operational plan with activities, deliverables, people responsible and due dates. This operational plan is put into a tracking system that staff use on a regular basis to update and refine the plan.
- Monitor the Plan: Nell helps the organization develop a process to monitor and measure achievement of the plan. The strategic plan begins to drive activity at the nonprofit. Staff and board meetings are driven by the goals and status of the plan.
If you want to learn more about what the strategic planning process looks like, watch “The Value of Great Nonprofit Strategy” webinar now, or download our one sheet describing the strategic planning process.
If you want to talk with Nell about whether a consulting engagement might be right for your nonprofit, fill out this form. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours to schedule a time to talk.
In one year of working with Social Velocity, Forte now has a comprehensive and focused strategic plan that includes a plan for financial growth to increase both our organizational scope and reach. The process stretched our staff and board of directors, and left us with a solid, actionable plan.
Catholic Charities was at a critical stage in its organizational history in 2010. It was time to revisit our mission and vision. Working with Social Velocity was just what we needed. The strategic planning process allowed us to affirm our core competencies, align our business practices with organizational goals, increase our capacity to serve more people and to set a new direction for our future. Our course is now set and we have a strategic purpose to guide us.