4 Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs a Strategic Plan

When is the best time to start your strategic plan? Now!

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“ABN and our consultant were a breath of fresh air for our organization. Our consultant asked some good and thought-provoking questions about what we are doing now, where we want to be, and how we would get there. A lot of our board members have made very positive comments about working with ABN and I think we all feel a new sense of excitement and enthusiasm for SMARM and what we can do with it.” –Jennifer Huskey, Board Chair, Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries (SMARM)

A strategic plan is a tool used to provide guidance in fulfilling an organization’s mission with maximum efficiency and impact. Simply, it is a document that points the way forward for your nonprofit. It both lays out your goals and explains why they’re important. Wondering why your organization should have a strategic plan? Here are four good reasons:

1) First and foremost, strategic plans help you to control your organization’s future. They give you direction and determine your organization’s priorities. They help define what your vision of success looks like, and show you chess-2938267_960_720-(1).pnghow to prioritize the actions that will make this vision a reality.

2) The process of developing a strategic plan helps create buy-in from your stakeholders and improves their understanding of your organization’s mission and capabilities. Once you define your strategy, you can get your board, staff, and volunteers on the same page.

3) Strategic planning enhances your organization’s decision-making capabilities by prioritizing the actions necessary for success. Priorities make it easier to say no to initiatives that may be sidetracking or not mission-focused. Sometimes hard-working people put their energy into areas that may have little-to-no effect on strategic success. Getting your stakeholders on board with your plan helps to prevent that.

4) Communication is key! When your board, staff, volunteers, donors, and the community know where your organization is headed, you allow for more opportunities for people to help you maximize your success in getting there.

The four critical steps to strategic planning (as defined by The Bridgespan Group) are:

1. Achieving strategic clarity;

2. Setting strategic priorities;

3. Determining resource implications; and

4. Developing an implementation plan and establishing performance measurement.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be! ABN is here to walk you through the steps. Whether you’re still on the fence about going down the strategic planning road or you’re ready to get started, ABN’s experts are here to help. To begin, contact Director of Capacity Building Elle Benson at ebenson@betternonprofits.org or (865) 313-2077.

386 Tiffani Mensch is the Director of Community Engagement for ABN. With over a decade of experience in nonprofit education, community outreach, and fundraising, Tiffani is passionate about helping nonprofits achieve greater mission impact. Before joining ABN, Tiffani worked for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the University of Tennessee, and Girls Inc. of Santa Fe. She earned an MA from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. Tiffani is the secretary of the board of trustees for Girls Inc. of Knoxville and a peer reviewer for the Standards for Excellence Institute. She also volunteers with the Historic Ramsey House.