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Strategic Planning: Making Plans That Impact

Resource Center - Foundation

Ben MohlerWe all know the goal is to have a healthy donor base and raise money to support our cause. And the way to do that is through planning—strategic planning.

But how do you really make it work?  AFP had a chance to chat with Ben Mohler, ACFRE about strategic planning—and how fundraising is like baseball!—in anticipation of his webinar, Strategic Doing: Making Plans That Impact, on July 27. 

Q.  What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when developing a strategic plan?

A.  Most organizations approach strategic plans by thinking of them as a road-map for the future. They're not. The most valuable part of strategic plans is the planning. Planning forces you to consider the "ideal" in light of reality. The finished plan should guide more than it dictates. Strategic plans should also help create team and individual work goals to track performance.

Q.  What work do you need to do before sitting down to write your plan?

A.  Start by remembering that strategy is represented at the organizational level, but action happens at the individual level. Because of this, it is key to have individuals involved in the planning process. With diverse perspectives represented in a SWOT analysis, the final product will greatly benefit.

Q.  Who in the organization should develop the strategic plan?

A.  Strategic plans, done properly, should affect every aspect of the organization. They show your blind spots, your strengths, and the competitive advantages you bring to impact your mission. Because of this, you should involve individuals from every aspect of the organization. For smaller teams, this might include everybody. For larger organizations, a representative sample is best.

Q.  How do you deal with an emergency that shifts priorities?

A.  If you begin with a strategic plan that is prescriptive, changed or unforeseen circumstances are difficult to integrate or mitigate. Crafted as a guiding document, strategic plans become easily adaptable to the unknown future.

Q.  How is fundraising like baseball?

A.  From the use of data to drive decision-making to the idea of it being a team sport played by individuals, baseball mirrors fundraising in many ways. When confronted with a new problem at work, I often find myself referring back to one of baseball's great philosophers, Yogi Berra. In his words "if you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." In light of the strategic planning topic, these are powerful words.

To find out more about creating an effective strategic plan, join us for Ben’s webinar on July 27, 2016 at 1:00 PM Eastern: Strategic Doing: Making Plans that Impact

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