January 30, 2024

How to Evaluate Your Nonprofit Strategic Plan

Video Cover: How to Evaluate Your Strategic Plan

Got entrenched challenges at your nonprofit? Dive into the video and take the first step toward transforming and removing nonprofit entrenched challenges with a nonprofit strategic plan that really works. Learn how to evaluate your strategic plan. Is it typical, effective or a resource magnet?

Here’s the link to the Nonprofit Strategic Plan Diagnostic.


Leading a nonprofit is truly a noble journey. Full stop. On the other hand, there are real challenges that every nonprofit CEO seems to face: boards, staff, revenue challenges, and sometimes those challenges, in particular organizations, feel like they’re entrenched. Like no matter what you do, you can’t get rid of them. Like every year, you maybe move forward, you add a tactic or change your strategy, and you move forward, and in but maybe you go back the next year. If this is you, you really need this video.

Weee–with the word “strategy,” I probably lost half my viewers, but bear with me because you’re about to hear some new thinking about how strategies work or don’t work.

This Video’s Goal

This video’s goal is to empower you to look at how you can get rid of an entrenched problem and at least move it off the front burner for a while.

So let me give you an example of what that looks like. I had a client who I’ve worked with for a number of years, and about five years ago, he said to me, “You know, it’s the staff. We’re doing this staff plan, blah, blah, blah.” It did not work with him then. It took him five years to finally come back and say, “Okay, I’m stuck. Karen, help me. It’s really entrenched.”

And so I did some work with him. What was lovely about that work is not only did we see immediate progress, but what happened a year later when I talked to him is I said, “Hey, how’s this going?” He said, “I said, are we still like struggling with the staff?” And he said, “Well, a little bit, but what’s really going on now is this other challenge.” And I’m like, “Bingo.”

Not that I get excited about solving these kinds of entrenched challenges. I kind of do get excited because it really makes so many lives better. So let me talk about how we’re going to help you to identify where this challenge may be lying.

Here’s the Secret

Short take, here’s the secret: it’s probably a strategy challenge.

Hope I haven’t lost the rest of you, but let me explain that most people evaluate their strategies in terms of, like, there’s still stuff to do. And instead of evaluating your strategy in terms of, like, it’s still in the timeframe we set for it to be our strategy or there’s things to do still on it, I challenge you to evaluate your strategy in terms of how it solves the three fundamental challenges that nonprofits must serve: how to gather people, how to gather money and resources, and how to create more outcomes.

By evaluating your strategy on these fundamental questions, you’ll see that you may love your strategy because it’s excellent in getting results, but it’s not so good in the people part of the world or what have you.

To help you evaluate how your strategy answers these fundamental questions, I’ve created a tool to help you evaluate whether your strategy is typical, which means it’s working but maybe not really in a way that’s as strong as you would like, or it’s effective, it is working and you see real progress, but maybe you’re not going to the next level, which is the best level, which is when it becomes a resource magnet.

This means what you’re doing is so attractive that gifts come over to you over the threshold, and people are reaching to you saying, “Hmm, I’d like to be doing something with you and be on your staff or your board,” whatever it is.

You begin to feel the pressure of people saying, “We see what you’re doing and we want in.”

Example 1: Strategy Evaluation

Let’s run through some examples. Kate had great programming, pretty good people both staff and board and those she would have around her, but perpetually underfunded. Kate needed to find a new strategy in terms of revenue, not just kind of like, “Oh, we’ll do what we did last year,” but you need to find a new way or a different way or to focus on one of our current ways to make revenue not be an entrenched problem.

Example 2: Strategy Evaluation

Nate, on the other hand, had strong revenue and growing. He had programs that were effective and moving towards being resource magnets. The challenge was for years, his staff and board issues of conflict and lack of alignment and arguments about what should be done, who they were, who they serve, deep kind of questions that created chaos and less productivity. Working with him, we solved those issues by finding a way to meld some of the key ideas that both sides had. So how about you?

How About You?

What is your challenge? Is it needing a new tactic? Does it need a strategic fix? Download the tool, find out. You can be the hero at your nonprofit, solve those entrenched forever challenges, and make your life better too.

What’s Next?

  • Work with me. I partner with nonprofits execs to craft tailored solutions to their board, staff, and revenue short-fall challenges –solutions designed to leave the current challenges in the dust. Take a moment to schedule your free session.
  • Need a board boost? Discover your prescription to nurture your board to health with BoardRx.
  • Get a trusted advisor to solve the staff or board challenges stuck in your backpack.
Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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