Have you ever went in to a strategic planning meeting and thought to yourself, “What a waste of time!” I know I have. It’s not because strategic plans are a waste of time – it’s because most nonprofit strategic plans don’t ever get looked at or used, leaving those involved feeling disgruntled about the planning process. A strategic plan should be a living document that is used at monthly meetings to track progress on goals and to ensure the organization stays focused.
Most people are quick to say every nonprofit should have a strategic plan. I don’t agree. While strategic plans are helpful and worthwhile, if they aren’t used in the right away – or if an organization simply doesn’t have the capacity to develop and keep up on a strategic plan, then they can be a waste of time for all involved. I don’t think every nonprofit must have a strategic plan. In fact, I would argue all nonprofits already have a simple, straightforward strategic plan in their mission statement. Look at Pet Haven Inc of Minnesota’s (Disclosure, I’m on their board) mission statement. It says what their goal is and what they are doing to get there. These are the two fundamental components of any strategic plan 1) Where you want to be 2) How you are going to get there.
So, the next time your organization gets ready to develop a strategic plan, ask a three important questions:
- Why are we putting together a formal strategic plan?
- Do we have one already? Have we followed it? Have we looked at it in the past 3 years since we developed it?
- What structure are we going to create to ensure this document is actually used and meaningful for our organization?
Photo Credit: Alper Cugun