The Center for Association Resources

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Is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Tips for Effective Strategic Planning

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

In fulfilling their missions, nonprofits must make a plan, lest they follow the adage that those who don’t know where they are going will certainly get there. Strategic planning is a sort of road map that allows organizations to plan where they are going, how they will get there, and what benchmarks will prove that they have met their goals. An analogue is the business plan of a for-profit venture. However, the methods and the goals may be slightly different.

There are, of course, as many ways to approach strategic planning as there are nonprofit organizations. However, the means of putting plans together have key points in common. One important starting place is that the planning has to come on the heels of intimate knowledge of the organization, its constituents, its methods, and philosophy. One tip for strategic planning meetings is to assemble binders that have all these elements in them for planners. Some materials that may be useful to include are previous budgets and figures regarding service delivery. When things will happen is an important question to answer. Proposed timelines for implementation can be included in the binder to maximize the usefulness of the time and materials.

In addition to mechanics of fulfilling the mission of the organization, it is important for the binder to include materials that both present and illustrate the vision and values of the organization. During strategic planning, planners may even notice that a modification of the mission statement is necessary because of an evolution in the organization’s practice or purpose. Examples of how the values of the organization have been implemented in the past can be an important tool in planning for the future. While day-to-day management of the organization is not the focus of a strategic planning session, it should be included from an eagle’s-eye perspective. One thing to include in written materials is a list of key positions and how they support the fulfillment of the organization’s mission.

There will be a significant amount of information and action to discuss when doing strategic planning, Another tip for planning effectively is to allow enough time for reading and active discussion. Following that, It may be useful to change settings with planners. If planning has thus far occurred in a conference room setting, the final stage could take place at a restaurant or in a retreat setting. One final question to answer is what the results will be of successful implementation of the proposed plans. Looking at the answer to this question both at the beginning and the end of planning will inform the answers selected.

No matter what direction strategic planning takes, It is important to remember that whatever is determined must boil down to tangible steps and measurable results. If planners combine these with their passion for the work of the organization, strategic planning has the greatest chance of being successful. As planners take things a step further and clearly communicate the results and expectations of planning to the people within the organization who are affected, something commonly overlooked, they are planning for success.
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Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , , , ,

September 2017
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