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Strategic Planning For Not For Profits


October 6, 2021 / fbcadmin

Kerrie Sheaves
Foundational Non Profit Consulting

The Importance of Strategic Planning For Not For Profits

Strategic planning for Not for Profits is a challenge for most charity organization’s, because more often than not they behave like a community group of volunteers and not like a business.
It’s not an unusual situation because most groups have started with a board or committee of generous and well-meaning volunteers. Those members have a interest in the mission and work of the group, and some skills that can help that organisation plan and deliver it’s services. But that’s not enough to sustain growth and momentum.
Getting critical resource decisions right – allocating time, talent, and dollars to the activities that have the greatest impact – is what “strategy” is all about. Yet relatively few nonprofits have strategies. (Zeroing In on Impact – is an excellent report that provides important insights for NFP leaders (by S.Colby, N.Stone, and P.Carttar – Stanford Social Innovation Review).
Begin your strategic planning with being crystal clear on your organisations purpose.

Purpose – Clarifying What Success Looks Like (Vision)

Some questions to answer to help you define your purpose are:
What impact will you make?
Who are our beneficiaries?
What benefits do our programs create?
How do we define success?
What would make us obsolete?

Not for Profit Strategic planning – Define the need

Why is there a need for your programs/organisation?
Are there already other organisations trying to solve this problem, that we could partner with or support?
“Needs can be defined as the gap between what is and what should be. A need can be felt by an individual, a group, or an entire community. It can be as concrete as the need for food and water or as abstract as improved community cohesiveness. An obvious example might be the need for public transportation in a community where older adults have no means of getting around town. More important to these same adults, however, might be a need to be valued for their knowledge and experience. Examining situations closely helps uncover what is truly needed, and leads toward future improvement.”

Do we have to do it all ourselves?

Strategic planning includes clarifying your ‘Boundaries of Service‘ What won’t we do? this matters just as much as what you will do.
“Establishing priorities can be wrenching on several dimensions, not least in that it compels nonprofit leaders to say what their organizations won’t do as well as what they will.” (Zeroing In on Impact )

Your Mission – How will we do it?

Programizing your organisations activities helps you to clearly define the streams of work and beneficiary groups you will deliver to. For funding strategies and project management processes this is essential. It also helps you to determine core business activities that support those programs and activities. We use the Program Tree to help our client visualise what that should look like for there organisation.
The leaves of the tree represent specific activities, that are delivered under program branches, supported by the core business functions (in a shared service model relationship).

As part of your Not For Profit strategic planning process, some questions to answer to help you define your mission include:
Explain the cause-and-effect logic that gets us from our resources (people and dollars) to impact?
Where are the gaps or leaps of faith in this logic chain?
What are the most important elements of our programs’ content and structure?
What assumptions led us to choose these particular program elements?
Are there other ways in which we could achieve the desired outcomes?
What is the minimum length of time our beneficiaries need to be engaged to achieve these outcomes?
What else do our beneficiaries need to achieve these outcomes?

Strategic Funding Models rely on detailed budgeting and clear links to programs

When approaching grants and funding, you need to break all your activities into mini projects. Using the Program Tree process for your organisation and its activities is an easy way to list your projects/activities under the different key services you provide the the beneficiaries of those activities.
Each granting body, or sponsor/donor will have some important objectives they are trying to achieve, and therefore the type of projects they will support need to be consistent with these objectives. You need to clearly explain how your project will contribute directly to these objectives being achieved.
Need some help working on your organization’s strategic plan? 
Contact our team on 1300 765 249

Call us to find out more today!


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