There are many approaches to Strategic Planning out there. Many nonprofit organizations spend exorbitant amounts of time and resources in this area in order to create a thick, dense Strategic Plan so overwhelming it mostly collects dust on a back shelf in the Executive Director’s office. CSL believes Strategic Planning is both much deeper and much simpler. In truth, it is none other than aligning the organization’s priorities, program mix and everyday actions with its mission, vision and core values. CSL has created an intensive process for a nonprofit to create a high-quality Strategic Plan in a relatively short time.
With this process, the Strategic Plan becomes a living, breathing document that the nonprofit can amend quarterly (or more frequently) so it retains its relevance to the organization’s evolving challenges, budgetary constraints, goals and priorities. The Strategic Planning process includes a weekend-long retreat in which CSL helps the Board and/or Leadership Team to balance its efforts toward achieving two key goals:
- Creating the vision and timeless values that guide and inspire the organization.
- Creating time-sensitive goals and objectives that the organization can use to measure its success.
The process culminates in the design of a one-year Action Plan that includes SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Aligned with the organization’s mission and vision, Realistic, and Time-based). The Strategic Planning process that CSL facilitates can be customized by your nonprofit.
There are 4 key steps in the sequence that CSL encourages most nonprofits to follow to create a Strategic Plan:
1) In the two months preceding the Strategic Planning Board retreat, CSL provides the nonprofit with a brief questionnaire on its internal strengths and challenges and external opportunities and threats. This questionnaire is completed by staff, clients, key donors and community/collaborative partners. In some cases, CSL interviews the organization’s primary stakeholders in person or by phone with respect to the nonprofit’s internal strengths and challenges and external opportunities and threats, and sends the Executive Director a summary of its findings to be distributed to all key stakeholders in the Strategic Planning process.
2) CSL facilitates a weekend (usually from Friday night through Sunday mid-day) Strategic Planning Retreat for the Board and/or Leadership Team. At the retreat, the Board/Leadership Team designs the main components of the 3-year Strategic Plan.
3) In the month following the retreat, the Executive Director and other leadership team members use the Board/Leadership Team input and decisions from the retreat to write up a draft of the Strategic Plan. CSL provides a framework for the Executive Director and leadership team members to create the Action Plan. The Executive Director sends CSL a draft of the Strategic Plan and CSL provides relevant feedback on format and content.
4) After discussion and any final amendments, the Board and/or Leadership Team approves the new Strategic Plan during an upcoming board or leadership team meeting or by email.
Contact CSL for a free consultation on how we can assist your nonprofit.