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  • Writer's picturemike

Nonprofits/NGO's: Time For Strategic Planning?

Updated: Feb 15

I know, I know. You hear someone say "strategic plan" and you groan and sigh.

But, as we have seen since the pandemic, associations, trade groups and non-profit organizations have gone through much turmoil. Now that things are settling down and we are seeing a return to more traditional conferences with steady revenue and expenditures (albeit it much higher expenses due to inflation) it would be a smart idea, especially for small organizations driven mostly by volunteer boards and limited staff, to undertake some strategic planning.

Over 70% of nonprofits in America have annual budgets under $50,000 and almost 90% have budgets under $500,000. One more statistic, almost 50% of all nonprofits have had no strategic planning at all -- and you know who you are! Just because you are small doesn't mean you shouldn't have a well thought out vision and plan for your organization.

For new nonprofit organizations with no experience at this, or for trade associations and others who have unchanging internal and external conditions, you should use a standard planning model. Most small nonprofits should be able to follow this simple approach.

The first step is to define your nonprofit's overall mission. Then, lay out the goals that best align with that mission by doing the following:

Establish short term goals that you will use to reach larger goals.

Design plans and activities for reaching the short term goals.

 Determine who will be responsible for enacting and overseeing those plans. (CEO, Executive Director, Program Coordinator, Board Leader)

 Create a timeline that includes these plans and activities. This timeframe could be anywhere from one, to three, to five years, depending on the size of the goals and the Board's desire for long term planning.

For example, a Special Olympics local program may have a goal of increasing the number of athletes they serve by 10% from 100 to 110 over the next three years. The local program determines it will need an additional $2,500 to properly achieve this goal. The strategic plan should clearly detail who will be in charge of outreach, who will contact donors, and any other steps needed to reach this goal. Some organizations will need to engage in public relations or lobbying to help them accomplish their objectives.

By first determining the smaller goals and who will manage them, the Special Olympics local program can focus on meeting the overall challenge successfully in the allotted timeframe.

Help your organization focus and build a plan for success!

Here are some resources as you begin your Strategic Planning process:

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