Many nonprofit organizations seem to evolve by osmosis. They stumble and bumble along and may even develop programs and projects based on funding streams, or strong staff/volunteer personalities. A more sound approach, however, is to use the strategic planning process to define purpose, goals, and objectives that will guide the operations of the organization.
Whether staff-driven, or in association with the board of directors, the strategic planning process can be a key way of creating a functional and dynamic organization. Strategic planning basically means a planning process where short-term and long-term goals and objectives are established, using the framework of the mission and the organization’s capacity. Organizations can PLAN for staffing changes (increases or decreases), as well as program changes, or even the purchase of land or a building. All of these growth elements can be part of a strategic plan.
It is important to take stock in where the organization is currently as a beginning to the strategic planning process. Honestly evaluate what the organization is doing well, as well as where things are falling short. Some organizations gather feedback from clients or volunteers as part of the evaluation process, and still others may create a survey to find out what the general public thinks of the services, programs or projects that are being provided.
Keep track of the strategic planning process. Write things down and make sure that transparency is a consideration. Keeping accurate records also help to alleviate confusion or having to go back and repeat discussion or decisions simply because participants cannot remember what was decided. Give the process plenty of time, but watch out for getting bogged down in debates and discussions. It can be helpful to set timelines to make sure that the strategic planning process has a successful end. Use the process to set a clear map for how the organization should proceed.