STRATEGIC PLANNING TIPS
by Ronald J. Meshanko, President, ERC
ERC Newsbriefs Excerpt, April 30, 1996

Strategic Planning is essential for a nonprofit to have a successful fund raising effort. Most funders view a strategic plan as a sure sign that a nonprofit board has taken its responsibility for insuring the organization's future mission seriously, and has a plan to secure the necessary funding to fulfill that mission. A strategic plan shows where you expect your agency to be in three to five years, taking into account the current strengths and weaknesses of the agency and the opportunities and threats facing it. The plan lays out the steps for the organization's growth and addresses the critical issues facing it in the future.

The best resources for strategic planning are: Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations. Bryan W. Barry. Amherst Wilder Foundation, Minneapolis, MN: 1991; and Building a Better Board: The Role of the Nonprofit Board in Strategic Planning. Book II. Andrew Swanson. Fund Raising Institute, Rockville, MD: 1992.

Some important tips to remember as you begin the strategic planning process:

  1. A perfect plan does not exist! Remember that the planning process is as important as the final document.

  2. Keep it short, simple and concise.

  3. Involvement by the entire board, staff and select volunteers and donors is key. Don't delegate the planning process to a consultant, staff person or volunteer.

  4. Every agency is different. Be creative and innovative by developing your own planning process and steps.

  5. Only adopt strategies that your organization can implement in a timely, cost-effective manner.

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