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Dove Audio Class Highlights: Strategic Planning That Works for Nonprofits - March 2003

Resource Center - Foundation

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"Strategic Planning That Works for Nonprofits"
Presented by Kent Dove
March 11, 2003

'We're in really good shape right now, so why worry?' 'We already have a plan in place for all our programs.' 'We're too busy!'

Are these some of the reasons why your organization has put off developing a strategic plan? If so, this session can be an eye-opener. In this illuminating 90-minute interactive workshop presenter Kent Dove outlined these and several other myths surrounding strategic planning. He also discussed the distinguishing characteristics of a strategic plan; why your organization should have one; and the basic steps to developing the plan.

Six features that distinguish strategic planning

  • Strategic planning concentrates on decisions, not on documented plans, analyses, forecasts and goals.

  • Strategic decision making means that a nonprofit and its leaders are active rather than passive about their position in the future. It is a matter of seizing the future, rather than being seized by the future.

  • Strategic planning looks outward and is focused on keeping the nonprofit in step with the changing environment. Nonprofits have no 'right to exist.' They exist at the pleasure of their communities to meet their needs, and to provide benefits and services to them.

  • Strategy making is competitive, recognizing that the nonprofit is subject to economic market conditions and to increasingly strong competition.

  • Strategy making is a blend of rational and economic analysis, political maneuvering, and psychological interplay. It is therefore participatory and highly tolerant of controversy.

  • Strategic planning prioritizes values and goals, concentrating on the fate of the nonprofit above everything else.

Why develop a strategic plan?

Taking the time and resources to do strategic planning can benefit your organization in many ways. The process stimulates forward thinking and clarifies future direction; identifies and solves organizational problems; builds teamwork; and improves the performance of programs. It can also help your organization to husband its resources to best advantage, helping it to flourish (or in some cases even survive) with less. In today's business environment, this may be the most important reason of all! Dove wrapped it all up with the five 'Ps' - Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

How to develop a strategic plan

For the remainder of his presentation, Dove explained how to follow these five steps to developing a strategic plan:

  • Get organized by creating a work plan and timeline for the planning process
  • Do a situational analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to get a picture of the internal and external environment in which your organization will operate in the next few years
  • Develop a strategy for analyzing options and directing decisions (scenario approach; critical issues approach; goal approach)
  • Draft and refine the plan: Agree on a format, develop a first draft, get feedback, refine the draft, and adopt the plan.
  • Implement the plan. And here your job has really only just begun! Strategic planning is a dynamic process in which progress is monitored, with midcourse corrections and updates made where needed.

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