By Cate Redfern, CFRE at Adansonia Consulting

Even though thinking about Strategic Planning can sometimes be overwhelming and intimidating, I consider it to be one of the most important tools for achieving mission success. In the instances that it has not been successful, it is because the motivation for developing a strategic plan wasn’t mission-focused and outcome-oriented, leading me to…

4 reasons why you might think about developing a Strategic Plan but probably shouldn’t:
1. You need to get it done quickly because your funders will only consider you if you have a strategic plan.
2. You need a way to deflect blame or criticism because goals are not being achieved.
3. You’re going to go on one staff/board retreat to come up with some great ideas and then never look at it again, but at least you can say you did it.
4. You need a vehicle for the Board of Directors to audit staff and volunteers.

However, if you find yourself considering these questions, Strategic Planning may be for you:
Where do I want our organization to grow and how are we going to get there?
How can we improve our performance to increase our impact and achieve our mission?
How do we help our amazing dedicated staff become a highly effective, performance-oriented team that is supportive, productive and focused on excellence as they deliver our programs to our constituents?
How do we engage our passionate board in a more meaningful and productive way?

Do you wonder how, despite having a fantastic board and staff, you can stop spinning your wheels and start moving forward?

3 simple, impactful reasons why a strategic plan will help you focus on achieving your mission:
1. Strategic Planning articulates what organizational success looks like and what it takes to get there.
A robust strategic plan is a valuable tool that facilitates the process of identifying and prioritizing your organization’s goals, for a certain time period (1-5 years), to achieve your mission. It articulates how and when you will achieve them. It serves as a roadmap that gives you and your staff a clear step-by-step plan so that you can develop and maintain focus on your mission by determining how your nonprofit can best serve your constituents through the programs and services you provide.

2. Strategic Planning empowers leaders and staff to make informed, mission-focused decisions.
It is a tool that will build a roadmap for everyone in the organization so that they know how they should be focusing their efforts and allocating resources to achieve mission success. It provides a framework that can focus activities of all staff and volunteers by giving them a clear understanding of what they need to do in order to accomplish the organization’s strategic goals.

3. Strategic Planning is a catalyst for proactive, intentional action rather than reactive crisis management.
By identifying priorities and desired outcomes, it provides a framework within which leaders and managers can quickly assess opportunities and make decisions about which ones should be pursued and which ones can be ignored. It prevents the dog from chasing its tail.

Why is Strategic Plan such an effective tool?
Everyone is reading the same playbook, developed by the team, to get you to the goalposts and effectively deliver the valuable programs and services that your community needs from you. The Playbook is made up of the Strategic Plan, Operation Plan and Action Plan.

A word of caution: Merely articulating Strategic Goals is not enough.  This is where most Strategic Plans fail before they have even started.

“A good Strategic Plan is only as effective as the commitment to develop an Operational Plan and Action Plan with detailed strategies to achieve the goals identified.”

The Strategic Plan articulates 3-5 broad desired outcomes expressed as goals that will serve as the organization’s focus for activities over a fixed period, typically 1-5 years.

The Operational Plan breaks the Strategic Goals into smaller SMART operational objectives that are:
• Specific: identify exactly what the objectives will achieve.
• Measurable: identify how success will be measured and evaluated (number of constituents served; dollars raised etc.)
• Accountability: identify who is responsible for managing the objectives.
• Realistic: objectives are achievable and success is within the scope of the resources available to the organization.
• Time-bound: set a reasonable timeline to achieve objectives.

The Action Plan is a detailed step-by-step plan that outlines activities in which staff, volunteers and the Board of Directors need to engage so that activities are focused and effective in achieving the identified objectives of the Operational Plan. It is:
• Flexible and can change as required.
• Dynamic – it is advisable to review the Action Plan at least every two months. Expect timelines and activities to change with every review.

Strategic Planning is a flexible and dynamic process….expect the Operational Plan and Action Plan to change, and know that it’s a sign that you’re paying to attention to your outcomes and being proactive about ensuring that you achieve your goals.

Adansonia Consulting is accomplished at providing Strategic Planning facilitation, with development of effective Operational and Action Plans, and Evaluation and Adjustment Dashboards, to make sure that you maintain focus, motivation and momentum to achieve your Strategic Goals.

To find out more about our Strategic Planning facilitation, implementation and accountability services, contact Cate Redfern at for a free one-hour no-obligation consultation.

4 Really Good Reasons to not pursue Strategic Planning, and 3 Simple Reasons why you probably should was last modified: January 27th, 2020 by Cate Redfern