Are you involved in a nonprofit — say, as a founder, or Board member, staffer or volunteer — that could use a boost in efficiency and thoughtful planning? Do you feel lost or adrift, without a clear map of where you want to be heading as an organization?
If your answer is “holy crap yes” you are in plenty of good company. Young fledgling nonprofits in particular are vulnerable to the energy-sucking effects of forging ahead without a clear plan. Even the most motivated, committed, passionate activists and organizers can lose valuable momentum when their activities aren’t planned out with an eye for the big picture.
The solution to disorganization and mission drift is a solid strategic plan. Better yet, embrace the concept of strategic planning as an ongoing activity. Every nonprofit that intends to have any sustained impact should have a strategic plan in place, and should review it regularly to update and refine it.
This kit offers an easy-to-follow approach to strategic planning that will yield a basic plan that clarifies your mission, specifies your goals and objectives, and outlines your activities, including planned budgets. If you’ve been stuck on how to kick-start your planning process, this is the kit you need!
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To give you an idea of what’s included in the kit, I’m including the opening sections below. Use the button to purchase and download.
A strategic plan is roughly equivalent to a business plan for a for-profit business. It outlines what your nonprofit is working towards and how it will achieve its goals, and typically includes budgets to show your expected income and expenses for the next one to five years.
In large organizations, the Executive Director and senior staff may be responsible for developing and finalizing the strategic plan and presenting it to the Board of Directors for approval. In small or fledgling groups, the entire Board of Directors may lead the process. In between those two approaches, a nonprofit’s board may have a planning committee to spearhead and/or lead the strategic planning process, but ultimately the board as a whole should always be engaged in discussing drafts, giving feedback and ultimately approving a plan.
This workbook largely leaves the question of who will participate in your strategic planning process up to you, and to other resources. What we’ll focus on is a review of the important sections that a nonprofit strategic plan should include.
Recommended resource: For in-depth information about strategic plans and beyond, see my book, Starting & Building a Nonprofit (8th edition 2019, Nolo). It provides an overview of the entire process of creating and growing a nonprofit, including deciding whether the nonprofit structure is the best choice, building and managing your Board of Directors, fundraising online and off, and more.
Section 1: Mission Statement
What is the main, overarching reason for your nonprofit’s existence? That, in a nutshell, is your mission statement.
Mission statements are often just one sentence, but it’s okay if it’s two, maybe three sentences long. If you go longer than that, you’re starting to venture into more detailed territory that should come later in your plan. For now, stick with the big picture.