Strategic Planning

What should a strategic plan accomplish?

A strategic plan that is developed through an inclusive process, one that reflects the best thinking of the key internal and external stakeholders in the organization, should accomplish the following:

  • Articulate a compelling and exciting vision for the future that engages a broad and diverse constituency to support the organization. 
  • Provide a variety of clearly defined roles that anyone wanting to support the organization can play: board members, staff, investors, volunteers, strategic partners.
  • Guide decision-making and provide a "filter" through which a range of opportunities can be evaluated for alignment and "fit" with the organization's overall aspirations and capacities..
  • Establish clearly aligned goals, strategies and action plans that are measurable and that can form the basis for board and staff committee work.

Above all, the plan should articulate the long-term vision of the organization (desired impact), its purpose or reason for being (mission), and the key goals and associated strategies that will be implemented to achieve the vision. 

When should organizations engage in strategic planning?

Many established public and nonprofit organizations initiate a planning process every three years and review the plan annually, tweaking strategies and action plans in response to changing internal and external realities. However, strategic planning is effective when any of the following conditions exist:

  • It is a newly formed organization, or an established one that lacks a plan or has an outdated plan that needs to be recharged.
  • There has been a significant leadership change at the Board or CEO/Executive Director level.
  • The organization is considering a merger, acquisition or other major strategic alliance.
  • It's time to shake things up.