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Avoid These Common Strategic Planning Mistakes

John Carothers
Skyler Womack
March 18, 2023
(3 min.)
Avoid These Common Strategic Planning Mistakes

Today we arrive at the final entry in our Strategic Planning series. Our first entry introduced you to the concept of a strategic plan and why they matter. Then we moved on to discussing the 4 essential parts of a strategic plan - review, goals, timelines, and execution. Following that came the practicals of executing your plan using strategies like regular communication and KPI tracking. In this blog, we’re going to share with you two common but critical pitfalls nonprofits fall into when creating a strategic plan.

Lack of intentionality in the planning process.

When running a nonprofit, you wear many different hats at once and your attention is likely being pulled in every direction imaginable. It’s important to be able to handle this pressure and still remain productive, effectively managing yourself to do everything that needs to be done. However, even with discipline, you can quickly find yourself getting careless in your day-to-day management. An effective strategic plan is a must to move your nonprofit forward, so setting aside intentional time is critical.

Failure to make this a priority can and will hurt you in the long run. You may have to sacrifice precious time away from other projects and needs, but it will be worth it down the road when you have your plan to fall back on. Creating a strategic plan might not be the most enjoyable activity, but procrastination and putting it off will only make it harder on yourself. The longer you go without it, the more momentum you build with no solid foundation. Stopping or redirecting this momentum later in the year will likely bring productivity to a grinding halt, and you may even realize that it’s already too late to change directions.

All of this to say - strategic planning isn’t a process to take lightly or approach haphazardly. Set aside time and space, even if it means sacrificing something else, to see this process through. Don’t let this be just another box you check off in your ever-expanding list of to-dos.

Goals are too vague.

The goal of a strategic plan is to make a concrete roadmap that will help you get from point A to point B. Just like your GPS gives very clear and concise directions, you’ll need your plan to provide the same level of support. Therefore, goal setting is one of the most important parts of this process.

However, this can be easier said than done. The reality is that life isn’t nearly as straightforward or predictable as we’d like. This can make goal setting intimidating and uniquely challenging - you’re not only predicting where you’ll be in a few months or years, but you’re also trying to plan for the unknown as well. Don’t make the mistake of allowing these realities to limit your goals. You may think that open-ended goals may give you more room to work, but they can actually limit your effectiveness. Which set of directions sounds more helpful - “turn onto Main Street” or “turn left in 5 miles onto Main Street”? You know that you’re trying to get to Main Street, but you don’t have any specifics. Is Main Street 5 miles or 50 miles? Do I turn right or left? Just like these directions, specifics will guide your time and resources effectively rather than limit them. More freedom isn’t always productive - sometimes restrictions actually help more than harm.

If you’re having trouble defining specific yet realistic goals, or how best to create space for nonprofit strategic planning, partnering with Confidant can help. We take the extra off your plate so that you can get back to doing what you do best - making an impact. This plan is too important to miss out on, so let Confidant work for you.


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