Strategic Planning – Prerequisite for Successful Mission Fulfillment
Room: Commonwealth 3
Human service organizations are under stress to prove their relevance and importance for the community and their constituents. The process of strategic planning has evolved over the last few years to go beyond a set of aspirations and goals. Of all the compelling reasons for an agency to engage in strategic planning, perhaps the most critical is the speed at which forces in your environment are changing. Good strategic planning drives the organization’s brand, stories of success, board commitment, risk management and reporting systems to attract and guide financial investments that meet the needs of the organization for mission fulfillment.
Strategic plans are developed with a clear purpose – they define specific goals and illustrate the necessary pathways and timeframes toward achieving organizational success. Even with the best preparation, all nonprofit agencies assume some level of risk of encountering strategic challenges along the way. Understanding some of the key factors that can affect your strategy – and even lead to failure – can mitigate this risk and increase the likelihood of strategic success and mission fulfillment! Below are a few points to keep in mind:
A roadmap for the future
Leading nonprofits do not earn their status as the best at what they do by being followers; they know where they are going and how to get there and key to this is designing and implementing a long-term strategic plan. Developing a truly exceptional plan with the potential to guide an agency toward its greatest levels of achievement – that will directly affect its mission fulfillment – takes time, resources and critical thinking.
Writing the plan and implementing goals
Though it may sound uncharacteristic, a strategic plan is a living document and should be cared for as such. Developed as guide maps, strategic plans should be meaningfully reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted accordingly as dictated by the dynamic internal and external environments upon which its original assumptions were drawn. Adaptability is key to long-term success. Likewise, a plan should not be created and then merely left on a shelf to collect dust. Writing an Annual/Operational Plan to support the strategic plan allows organizations to breakdown long-term goals and objectives into more manageable pieces, carefully monitor progress against goals, ensure the appropriateness of goals going forward and hold assigned staff accountable for results.
Addressing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) with intention during strategic planning signals your organization’s commitment to being more inclusive and, in many cases, ______. Approaching the strategic planning process with a DEI lens can drive your equity vision into programs and community engagement to make lasting impact on staff, leadership and clients served.
Commitment is critical
Without the proper commitment from agency leadership and buy in from others throughout the organization – strategy has little chance of realizing the accomplishments it was written to achieve. You are not only committing to your strategic plan – you are dedicating your efforts for the best outcomes for your clients – which is the key reason for creating a plan, after all.