Strategic planning is key for stakeholder engagement
We did a a focus group yesterday with 10 nonprofit executive directors to understand their strategic planning challenges and explore how pro bono could be used to support the process. What an impressive group. Collectively, I think they had been involved in at least 50 strategic planning projects, and they brought a real depth of understanding and pragmatism to the process.
What emerged as a core theme was the importance of strategic planning as a way to reach out to stakeholders (volunteers, donors, clients, board, partners, city officials, etc.) to help them connect with the organization. It was clear that this effort was as much about inclusion and engagement as it was about the actual content. It is a rare opportunity to really reach out to people who care about the success of the organization and have a real conversation.
Pro bono support from business professionals with planning and research backgrounds enables an organization to radically increase the number of conversations. This in turn increases the size of the stakeholder group that is engaged and therefore makes them more loyal and supportive of the nonprofit. Most nonprofits around the table reported that they were only able to engage 10-20 stakeholders in their planning process but would ideally like to touch closer to 50 people. With pro bono support to help conduct and record these conversations, they could achieve that goal and perhaps even surpass it. This would not only increase support for the organization, it would yield a much richer set of insight into their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.