In the past week, I have spoken with two organizations who have realized they need a new strategy to accomplish their vision. They both have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve – growth in one case and an increased endowment to supplement annual spending in the other. But, each came to understand that keeping their current ways of doing business would not allow for growth and fundraising, respectively.
They were wise coming to this conclusion. If you want to dramatically increase fundraising, shift programming priorities or improve board governance issues it will require you to do something drastically different. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a perfect example of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Speaking to various board members at each of these organizations, similarities become apparent. They both know:
- they need a major shift in mindset to achieve their vision(s)
- their current fundraising strategy will not suffice
- the board has to be united in determining how to get to their goal
That is where the strategic planning process comes in.
During a strategic planning process you can:
- Understand organizational priorities. While some people may want to focus on additional programming and others want to add staff. Either way, it’s essential for everyone to look at how their personal priorities fit into the larger picture.
- Help your board and staff find a cohesive path forward. You know those lively conversations (read: disagreements) are important to have, but you need to be able to find common ground to move forward. Strategic planning can help ensure everyone feels heard.
- Recommit board members. Sometimes, board members need to be reminded of why they joined this board. Of course, you don’t want to create a strategic planning process just for this purpose, but it is a nice side effect.
- Look at your growth strategy. Are you planning on staying the same size in the next few years? If not, do you want to be larger or smaller? Do you want to expand your organization’s reach within your current community or expand to a second location? Is your decision based on a strategic decision or a financial one?
- Strategic planning is not “one and done.” Strategic planning is something that needs to be revisited on a regular basis for most nonprofits. Whether it is on a three-year, five-year or even ten-year cycle, don’t ignore the importance of what this process. As new board members cycle on and off and staff members turnover, priorities subtly shift with each change. It’s smart to have a check in from time to time to make sure everyone is on board with it.
If you would like to speak with us about initiating a strategic planning process, email me today.
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