In my work with nonprofit organizations and foundations across the country I have seen a variety of themes emerge during the strategic planning process.
1. Growth: What kind? How much?
Growth can occur in many ways, such as mergers, geographic expansion, diversification in services, and adding capacity to serve more people with the same services you now offer.
Growth means you are serving more people, and often leads to operating efficiencies, increased visibility and a larger impact. Most growth strategies require careful management of human resources (paid and volunteer), communication, and infrastructure.
This theme often comes into play when an organization realizes it has taken on too much and has lost its focus. The solution may be spin out programs that are not core to the mission.
3. Identify success factors
Here an organization seeks to identify its competitive advantage and focus on a few factors that are critical to its success. These factors could include having the trust of its clients, parental involvement, results, innovation, and more. In pursuing this strategy, it is important to understand how every part of the organization supports these success factors.
4. Shift focus to root causes
Sometimes dealing with the symptoms does not seem to move the needle on fixing the problem. That’s when organizations may decide to shift their programming to work further upstream — to get at the root cause of an issue. This may include advocacy, public policy work, research, and prevention programs.
5. Be innovative
When an organization has seen success in its programs, it may decide to try a different spin – a new teaching method, a new delivery system, a different schedule, new use of technology, and more. The organization that pursues this strategy must be willing to take a few risks and be a learn from both what works and what doesn’t work.
Call me today to see how strategic planning can focus the energy of the staff and board and rekindle the fire and to pursue your mission with commitment and passion.