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Your Nonprofit Needs a Strategic Plan: Here’s Why

Non-profits
Skyler Womack
John Carothers
March 19, 2023
(4 min.)
Your Nonprofit Needs a Strategic Plan: Here’s Why

We understand non-profits. We get it and see you. The mission effort is always so simple and pure, but the demand of running a non-profit is not as straightforward as the mission at hand. Most Executive Directors desire for their non-profits to engage more with their donors to inspire more generosity and involvement, but are often limited due to budget, staff, and time. That’s exactly why on top of providing affordable services to non-profits, we’ve decided to write out a new resource on creating a non-profit strategic plan. We hope that this blog series will help you and your organization better navigate the logistics of running a non-profit so that you can get back to doing what you do best - creating impact.

What is a strategic plan?

A strategic plan, simply put, is a document that is meant to serve as your roadmap for a successful year. This document consists of developing, clarifying, and writing the strategy that you will use to achieve your team’s mission and vision. It can be as thorough or as basic as you wish it to be, but obviously, the more time and effort that goes into writing a plan, the clearer the roadmap will be. Therefore, think of this process as a long-term investment with a high potential return. This document will be the foundation you’ll continually refer back to throughout your year.

Your strategic plan isn’t static or unchanging either - it is a living, dynamic idea that evolves as your organization does. Circumstances and priorities at nonprofits can shift at a moment's notice - what may be strategic one year might not work as effectively the next. As details change and as your team grows, your plan needs to reflect that and therefore should be updated every 3 - 5 years.

Why should I make a strategic plan?

Any time people are working toward a common goal, a well-developed plan makes operations smoother. This document will serve as an accountable and collective plan that helps your team stay focused on the mission effectively. Without having this document in place, team members may develop personal goals based on differing priorities. This can create tension between roles and can place a strain on resources, causing internal conflict within your organization. A clear strategic plan keeps everyone moving forward on the same path.

When your team can take inventory of strengths and weaknesses and plan ahead for various scenarios and roadblocks, you have a better idea of where to allocate your funds, time, and energy. When unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic plunge the world into the unknown, having your resources working effectively alongside your mission can help you stay afloat and remain productive.

Are strategic plans effective when it comes to fundraising?

Yes, absolutely. A clear strategic plan shows major donors your step-by-step plan to optimize their generosity for maximum impact. This is an extremely powerful fundraising strategy. Showing major donors how their financial gifts can be a catalyst for your organization as you look to expand your impact moving forward. A strategic plan sets out a clear vision and direction for the organization and provides a roadmap for how to get there. In the context of fundraising, a strategic plan is an effective tool for several reasons.

Firstly, a strategic plan helps to create a clear and compelling case for support. By articulating the organization's mission, goals, and strategies, the plan enables potential donors to understand the impact and importance of the organization's work. This understanding can help donors to feel more connected to the organization and more motivated to support its efforts.

Secondly, a strategic plan provides a framework for fundraising activities. It helps the organization prioritize its fundraising efforts and identify the most effective strategies for achieving its goals. For example, the plan may identify specific fundraising campaigns or events that align with the organization's mission and goals. This focus can help to ensure that the organization's fundraising efforts are both effective and efficient.

Thirdly, a strategic plan can help to build relationships with donors. By sharing the plan with donors, the organization can demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability. This openness can help to build trust with donors and create a sense of partnership in achieving the organization's goals.

Finally, a strategic plan can help to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization. By setting out a clear vision and direction, the plan helps the organization to focus on its core mission and avoid distractions. This focus can help to ensure that the organization remains relevant and impactful over the long term, which in turn can help to attract and retain donors.

Your team may decide to take the time to work out the details yourselves, or you may outsource this process to organizations like Confidant Co. This route may help lighten the workload so that you can continue to focus on impacting people and communities across the globe.

Stick around over the coming weeks to hear more, and don't miss our next entry in the series called “The 4 Essential Steps in Making a Strategic Plan”.

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