By: Sheela Nimishakavi, MA, MPH
The other night I was at a meeting for an organization that I volunteer with and our facilitator mentioned that the organization will be undertaking their next strategic planning process.
Now, at first I didn’t pay much attention to that statement- hey, it was 8pm on a Thursday and I was dreaming about the weekend.
But then I realized- wait, what?! I have been involved with this organization for four years and I’ve never seen or heard mention of the CURRENT strategic plan. For a document that takes so much time and effort (and $$$) to prepare, we all too often file it away until the next round of planning begins.
But, shouldn’t the strategic plan be guiding our every move?
If you think about it, the strategic planning process gathers input from everyone impacted by the work of your organization- everyone from staff and board members, to constituents and other stakeholders. All these people came together during the planning process and agreed (or agreed to disagree) that this is what your organization should focus on over the next 3-5 years.
So, your to-do list should ALWAYS have tasks that get you closer to achieving these goals. Why?
Well, it makes saying “no” 100X easier. Your nonprofit can’t be everything to everyone, but it can be SO HARD to say no when an opportunity comes your way. But, by mapping your daily tasks to the long-term goals of the organization, you have your eyes on the prize and won’t get distracted.
Did you get a call to exhibit at a children’s fair even though this year’s focus is on adults? Nope, can’t do it! Or, how about that eager board member who wants to start an art program even though that it’s not a strategic priority? Sorry, no can do- this is the plan we all agreed to.
On the flip side, it makes it easier to figure out what you SHOULD be focusing on every. single. day. You can work backwards from your strategic plan to determine your daily, weekly and monthly goals. Here’s a FREE worksheet that walks you through the process.
Lastly, if you’re trying to advance in your career, clearly indicating how you progress the organization towards its long-term goals is a wonderful way to demonstrate the value you add to the nonprofit.
So, dust off that strategic plan- pin it up on your wall, make it your screen saver, do whatever it takes to keep it front and center. AND download this FREE worksheet while you’re at it.
How do you keep your strategic goals in mind once the planning process is over? Comment below!