Does your agency really need a Strategic Plan this year?

You might be on the fence about dedicating the time and energy needed to formulate a strategic plan for your nonprofit. Like most organizations, you have limited time and resources. So it’s important to make sure those resources are being used efficiently.

Chances are, your mission hasn’t changed, your board members haven’t changed, and the need you are fulfilling hasn’t changed. So if nothing big has changed, why create a strategic plan for the new year?

In addition, your board members probably already meet quarterly to discuss important or pressing topics. Your programs might even be working fine, with your metrics showing that you are helping people in your chosen area.

If that’s the case, is it really necessary to set aside anymore extra time talking about things everyone already knows? Can’t you skip this step?

Quite simply, no you cannot.

I’m not saying you need to plan a full board retreat every year. That might not be an efficient use of your resources. However, don’t make the mistake of assuming just by working harder, and doing what you have always done, that your agency will thrive.


The 2 Reasons Why You Need a Strategic Plan 

Whether you’re creating a strategic plan from scratch or reevaluating your preexisting strategy, here are a couple reasons why this deserves your attention.

1. Change is constant.

Even though it may seem like business as usual, your organization is constantly undergoing change. Sometimes without you even realizing it. It’s important to take the time to try to uncover those hidden changes before they disrupt your organization.

Here are 7 changes that your organization could experience:

  1. Your operating environment can change, so you need to see how that can impact your operations.
  2. Rules regarding grants (both public and private) can change.
  3. Your donors communication needs can change and must be addressed.
  4. Your tried and true fundraising ideas, like galas or golf outings, no longer work as well as they used to. 
  5. Your mix of donors is changing as younger supporters step up but their average donations are less than your historical averages.
  6. Your client needs can change over time. Now they need other kinds of help than what you’ve been delivering in the past.
  7. How you relate and collaborate with other agencies in your community may have changed.

Feeling overwhelmed by recent changes in your organization, or changes you know you need to make? I’ve helped many leaders through this difficult situation. If you’d like to find out more, check out Leading For Impact.


2. The way you operate may no longer be effective.

With changes constantly popping up, it’s safe to assume that the way you’ve always done things may no longer be the best plan for your organization moving forward. You may have made incremental changes to how you operate over the years, but have never taken an overall look at how efficiently things are working.

Here are some questions to help figure out how effective your current methods are:

  • Do your programs pass the cost vs benefit analysis? Some of your programs may have outlived their usefulness.
  • Would you be better off outsourcing some services to different organizations? It is hard to admit, but sometimes other organizations may do a better job of handling certain services.
  • Have you undergone significant growth over the years? The methods you have used in the past may actually be holding you back today.
  • Does your budget accurately reflect your priorities? If not, it requires analysis and some serious high level discussion.
  • Do board members and donors understand what those priorities are? If there is confusion over priorities or trouble making decisions, it’s probably due to a lack of clarity.
  • Does your mission, budget, key strategies, and goals all align? Change can cause these to fall out of alignment and weaken your overall efforts.

Do any of these issues sound familiar? It’s very common for nonprofits to run into these sorts of problems. By implementing a strategic plan, you can take the guesswork out of resolving these types of issues.

Benefits of Strategic Planning for Your Nonprofit

What can a Strategic Plan can do you for?

There are a number of ways creating a strategic plan and actively updating or reevaluating that plan can benefit your organization.

A strategic plan can:

  • Help shape and communicate a clear vision for the future – By taking the time to create a strategic plan, you can then more easily communicate that plan to your board, volunteers, donors, and employees.
  • Help you be a better leader – With a clear plan, you can lead with confidence and provide direction to your team. Using the plan, you can also show how each member fits into your strategy moving forward.
  • Help efficiently use your agency’s limited resources – You can more easily determine what resources are being used and where. This can also help minimize waste caused by false starts or mistakes.
  • Help make the tough decisions – As a nonprofit leader, having a clear plan will guide you in your decision-making. It can also help you choose the right path, not the one that is most convenient or popular.

Taking the time to craft an effective strategic plan will help you build a road map for the new year.

Need a little help?

You can start the process by downloading 5 Steps for Strategic Planning Success. This free resource will help you learn how to create an effective Strategic Plan.

Starting from scratch or need a refresher? Get the free Strategic Plan Template and see if it can help you build a winning strategic plan for the new year. 

If your organization is ready to go to the next level, I can help you and your board develop an effective Strategic Plan that will actually work. Learn more about how Blueprint can help your organization.