We’re excited to kick off the next Brighter Strategies Blog series. If you missed the last one, check out our six articles on competency modeling here.

And if you’re new to Brighter Strategies, here’s a little background. We believe that nonprofit success is holistic, the sum of the planning, process, people, and performance systems in an organization. The more integrated these systems, the more streamlined overall growth can be.

Check out Brighter Strategies’ Systems Diagram here.

This year via the Brighter Strategies Blog, we are examining each of these systems by explaining some theory behind our recommended improvement approaches, dissecting real-world case studies, and suggesting practical action steps you can begin to take today. Last winter we looked at an invaluable people process—competency modeling. This spring we are unpacking a planning process that is imperative for any nonprofit to operate effectively—strategic planning.

What is strategic planning?

Let’s start with strategy. Strategy is all about the future. Non-profit strategy includes an intentional plan, pattern, position, and perspective to help an organization create desired outcomes for the future.

  • Plan: how you intend to realize your goals
  • Pattern: the rhyme and reason that emerges when making decisions for the future
  • Position: the stance you take
  • Perspective: your view that shapes and guides decisions and actions

Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy and deciding how to allocate resources to pursue it.

Why should I care about strategic planning?

In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) business environment, nonprofit management must conduct ongoing strategic planning to remain agile in the midst of uncontrollable forces. Additionally, strategic planning provides the insights necessary to:

  • anticipate and prepare for impending change
  • differentiate products and services from competitors’ offerings
  • increase employees’ stake in the organization’s future.

One of the greatest challenges voiced by organization development practitioners is the need to align their efforts with overall business goals. And one of the greatest requirements of funders, Board members, and other stakeholders is a defined plan for the use of nonprofit resources in the immediate and long-term future. Strategic planning is the key to such alignment and allocation.

For mission-oriented organizations, planning efforts may take some work to execute. But those non-profit leaders who make strategy a priority will stand above the rest. Don’t let the future define you; instead, create the future you want for your programs, employees, and the people you serve.

In Part Two of this series, we will examine Brighter Strategies’s strategic planning approach in detail. Subsequent articles will illustrate this approach using a real-world case study. Stay tuned!