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Creating a strategic plan for your nonprofit is one of the methods of ensuring that your mission is well understood and achieved. The strategic plan puts your mission into goals that are not only easy but also measurable and easy to track. It defines where your organization wants to go and outlines how you should get there. Since the business environment changes along the way, your strategic plan also should be flexible enough to address the changes as this will make the plan valuable in guiding your nonprofit to success. As a leader of a nonprofit, a strategic plan will help you land more opportunities and have a template that will guide you to offer top-notch services, ideas, and priorities. Nevertheless, the question that many people ask is; what is a strategic plan?

A strategic plan is a well-explained set of coordinated actions that work together to advance the mission of an organization. According to Michael Porter, a strategic plan is a competitive strategy and, therefore, must be unique and well thought. Unlike an operational plan that focuses specifically on a way in which things are done, a strategic plan is directional and far-reaching. For a nonprofit, a strategic plan must deliver a unique mix of value and must be based on the input of stakeholders. It should take into consideration the potential value proposition in a competitive nonprofit landscape.

Generally, a strategic plan must involve various aspects of your nonprofit such as mission, vision and values, goals, and how the goals will be attained by achieving the organization's objectives. Others include the available resources and analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).

Strategic planning is crucial in a nonprofit for various reasons. First, after the strategic planning and priorities of an organization have been delineated as required, resources can then be allocated efficiently. Such a move reduces the likelihood of wastage and ambiguity. The clarification also allows leaders to get a clear vision, purpose, and direction that you need to take as an organization. This gives them purpose and direction and ensures that they are more engaged.  With the correct picture of the future, the organization's identity is identified, and all the decisions that will be made going forward will be guided appropriately. Accordingly, it deepens the engagement of the organization among staff, board members, program participants, stakeholders, and volunteers as well as partners. It also builds a shared understanding of the organization’s current position and where it intends to go in days to come, including the strategy for change.

A clear strategic plan will help your organization to anticipate potential challenges in the future by examining the weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities that they can be capitalized. Furthermore, it allows nonprofits to scan the external environment and identify ways of troubleshooting the problems that can hinder the achievement of goals. With a proper definition of the strategies, you get a framework and template that will guide your day-to-day decisions, investments, and opportunities that you should pursue. You can use a strategic plan as a fundraising and marketing document as it allows you to show your plans to your funders and constituents on what you plan to achieve in the long or short-term.

Make it a good practice planning for the future since various factors change, and nonprofits will need to adjust its strategy to meet these changes. Changing to suit the shift in the nonprofit environment brings everyone together and energizes the team. On the other hand, a constant review of the environment allows nonprofits to navigate the unpredictable changes and gives you the ability to adapt continually. It would help if you therefore created a strategy that is flexible to accommodate change and decisions that are arrived at to fit into the new nonprofit landscape.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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