A strategic plan serves as a roadmap for an organization to define goals in order to achieve its mission. It also plots the course on how to reach those goals over the next three to five years. During the planning process, board and staff members collaborate with other key stakeholders to determine how to design programs, allocate resources, and measure success.
The last two years have upended nonprofits, so you may be wondering, “What’s the point of planning in these turbulent times?” A comprehensive strategic plan can assist you in navigating challenges, pivoting operations, and adjusting priorities.
7 Steps to Creating a Nonprofit Strategic Plan
There is no one way to create your strategic plan but following these steps can provide valuable insight into your organization’s ability to achieve its objectives.
1. Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
Many nonprofits start the strategic planning process by determining the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, in what is commonly known as a SWOT analysis. The SWOT looks at both external and internal factors.
2. Define Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART) goals
After conducting the SWOT analysis, relevant research, and stakeholder interviews, what objectives will move the needle and enable you to make an impact?
3. Create clear methods to measure and evaluate the impact of your work
A strategic plan not only identifies goals, but also the tactics to reach those goals. How will you track those SMART goals and determine success?
4. Decide how to allocate your organization’s resources to ensure long-term viability and growth
Improve your ability to efficiently manage resources. How can you refine operational capabilities? Do you need a project management tool? Larger staff?
5. Reforecast your financials
Create an accurate forecast of your revenue for the next few years in order to make strategic decisions and predict financial risks
6. Involve staff and the board in brainstorming and implementation
Honest feedback and insights are essential in evaluating your organization and implementing any changes. You will need the support of your stakeholders.
7. Avoid potholes…and pandemics
No one anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic, the great resignation, supply chain disruptions, and other turbulent events over the last two years, but with a strategic plan in place, you have a better chance of adapting. Just like a GPS shows alternate routes, having a strategic plan enables your organization to find other routes and reach its destination of advancing your mission!
Taproot skilled volunteers can help
The strategic planning process may seem daunting, especially for a time-strapped, short-staffed nonprofit, but you are not alone. Taproot has plenty of volunteers experienced in strategic planning. Here are just a handful of Taproot Plus Projects to help with some of the steps:
- SWOT analysis: Work with a skilled volunteer to create a breakdown of your nonprofit’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.
- HR Assessment: Do you have the staff to carry out the plan’s recommendations? You can also use this assessment to learn how to operate with a scaled-back team.
- Financial Reforecasting: Troubleshoot your forecasting model with a financial expert.