Most often nonprofits are often short of time, budget, helpers and staff. This reality, particularly for particularly small and nimble organizations, can make the development of an annual strategic plan appear like a difficult feat. Nonetheless, practically approaching the strategic planning process is undeniably critical for maximizing inadequate budget and staff bandwidth. It keeps a nonprofit dedicated, specifically if the tendency is to frequently start new programs and services because everyone’s passion for the cause is endless.
So the following four points should be considered in order to come up with a well thought out plan
1.Strategic Planning session: Always start off with a full day / half day strategic planning session with the board members. This step ensures the board is bought-in from the start of the year on programmatic and fundraising priorities. The executive director should be hundred percent transparent and upfront with the board about what he/she needs from them—additional fundraising strategies, new board members, more board support at events, etc.
2.Involve legal counsel: Have any new laws, licensing or other legal restrictions been introduced in the field that impact daily operations? Compliance with new laws and regulations can place a tremendous strain on time and financial resources. Utilizing pro bono legal counsel at the outset of a year can help an organization avoid costly issues down the line.
3.Review last year’s results: Carefully review the successes and failures of the year prior – preferably with the board. This is to make sure that every program run by the organization still aligns with the core objectives and purpose of the organization. This will ensure a thorough review of new programs that might be diverting the organization’s core mission. Also this review can be a platform to critique an event which has lost its value and no longer appeal to sponsors. So now is the time to address such issues instead of simply following the status quo for
another year. Hard decisions may have to be made, but in the end cutting a program that no longer supports with the organization’s mission is favorable to staff, volunteers, funders and the people being served.
4.Ensure staff wellbeing: Staff are the life blood of any organization and more so are they in nonprofits. These men and women who commit their lives to charitable organizations have huge sentiments. This is why they put their own demands on the backburner and purely focus only on the demands of others. So it should the governing body’s responsibility to ensure staff wellbeing. It could about basic things like staff vacations or their emotional or financial needs etc…
At first it can be daunting to step away from urgent day-to-day operations to develop an annual strategic plan after considering the above points will make a lasting impact on the health of the organization long-term.