Strategic Planning is the Key to Sustaining Your Nonprofit Organization

July 30, 2014

Guest Blog by Carolyn Mattocks, Executive Director, I Can Do Anything Organization, Inc., and Member of Maryland Nonprofits

What is strategic planning? Strategic planning is an essential process for the sustainability of a nonprofit organization. The term, strategic planning, is defined as the process which determines the strategic goals and objectives of an organization over the next year or more. The process of strategic planning helps an organization assess patterns and positioning  which helps them to identify growth areas and the promotion of change. Without strategic planning, an organization is forfeiting its future success. It is important for an organization to have a successful strategic process. A successful strategic process involves collaboration, cooperation, and coordination.

The Importance of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is very critical when starting a nonprofit organization. There are several strategic models that can help the growth of the nonprofit organization. However, choosing the correct model is based on the size and mission of the organization as well as the active engagement of key players such as administrators, officers, board members, staff, and stakeholders. During the early stages of the development of the nonprofit organization, two models that can help increase growth are the vision-based and issues-based. These models are very basic and help to establish specific goals for the organization. Both of these models focus on the future success of the organization. The vision-based strategic model involves the top management of the organization and can be implemented in a year. The issues-based model involves all individuals in the organization and encourages the buy-in of all people. Each of these models require additional planning phases in order to make the strategic planning process well-rounded.

The Initial Phase of the Strategic Planning Process

The initial phase of the strategic planning process starts with the mission statement. The mission statement is very critical to the success of nonprofit organizations. In the strategic planning process, the mission statement is assessed in order to determine who the organization is and how it ensures public trust. In his book, Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement, Bryson states that the strategic planning process involves the use of Socratic Questions which explore the identity of the organization, social and political problems, stakeholders, values, culture, and uniqueness. The assessment of a nonprofit organization’s mission statement through the strategic planning process helps it to determine major strategic goals and objectives that will lead to transparency which means that the organization has established complete buy-in and commitment and lays the foundation for a successful strategic planning process and organization for years to come.

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