Strategic plans look into the future three to five years, setting up the goal posts your organization wants to hit by the end of the plan. We’ve talked before about inspirational versus practical planning and about journey versus route, but here’s a quick reminder.
When it comes to nonprofit organizational planning, the inspirational view – your hopes and dreams – is the foundation of a strategic plan. It contains your dream (vision), the journey (strategy) and destination (goal). All of these are key elements to an organization’s success.
Strategic plans are a statement of intention and hope, breaking down the strategy the organization needs to take to arrive at the ideal destination. Most strategic plans have a vision statement of where the organization will be at the end of five years, a number of goals (ideally five to ten) are listed under that vision statement. Each goal has a strategy attached to it, providing general guidance along the way.
Inspirational thinking is at the heart of a strategic plan. Organizations look into the future and envision how they will operate through programming, fundraising, governance and more.
Questions to ask yourself during the strategic planning process:
- What’s your dream for the organization? What will it be doing? This dream is your vision of the organization.
- Think about the direction this vision takes you in. How will you be financially? How will you be staff and volunteer-wise? How will you be organizationally? These questions help you realize the goals you need to accomplish the vision.
- How will your organization accomplish the stated goals? Breaking down goals helps to form a strategy.
Vision, goal and strategy are key elements of a strategic plan. They provide a roadmap for your organization to move forward over a three to five year journey. Strategic planning is about harnessing inspirational thinking into a solidly focused document, one that every board member and staff person should know by heart and refer back to often.
Strategic plans are the embodiment of your organization’s dreams, a vision of where you want to be in the next three to five years. Your vision encompasses many different aspects of your organization – your programs, infrastructure, finances and more. It wraps all of these connected pieces together into a set of goals, targets you want to reach within that three to five year range giving you an understanding of the journey you need to take during that time.