You announce that it’s time to do nonprofit strategic planning, and you get resistance. Board member rolls their eyes or even verbally say, “I hate strategic planning.” Or the resistance may come from you. You may be thinking. We have to do it. A funder requires it. Or it’s time. The old plan is done, and it’s a waste. If this is you—you may be surprised to find that as someone who helps nonprofits create dynamic strategies, I may concur with some of the nay-sayings.
Because the resistance may be realistic and well-placed, it depends significantly on what you expect and what you mean by strategic planning. What you need at your organization when you face this resistance is a strategy to get clear on strategic planning. I have a three-step process to help you out.
Why is a nonprofit strategy–knowing the best path to your vision now, that is how you win, so energizing?
It empowers you to know that you can achieve your goal. It allows you to make firm plans, and it works like this:
The right strategy allows you to create a plan that will enable you to decide what to do today, which allows you to set forth on a path of consistent, disciplined action that helps you to know that you will reach your goals.
Guide mentioned: Nonprofit Strategic Planning 101
You announce that it’s time to do strategic planning, and you get resistance. Board member rolls their eyes or even verbally say, “I hate strategic planning.” Or the resistance may come from you. You may be thinking. We have to do it. A funder requires it. Or it’s time. The old plan is done, and it’s a waste. If this is you—you may be surprised to find that as someone who helps nonprofits create dynamic strategies, I may concur with some of the nay-sayings.
Because the resistance may be realistic and well-placed, it depends a lot on what you expect and what you mean by strategic planning. What you need at your organization when you face this resistance is a strategy to get clear on strategic planning. I have a three-step process to help you out.
The first step is to define what you’re talking about. Laura Way with Arts Greensboro inspired this video when she said to me, “I don’t believe in strategic planning.” And I said I may not either. Tell me what you mean.
Usually, people have three responses to that question. They’re thinking of the process. They have “been there, done that.” It was boring, and it wasn’t very informative. Perhaps they’ve used SWAT one time, too many. Or they’ve just it’s not just a bad group dynamics. It’s boring. It’s slow. Nothing happens. Nothing comes out of it.
The second area is the document. They’re thinking, “Oh yeah, we’re going to create this thing that’s going to gather dust. It’s going to be beautiful. We’re going to spend hours on it, and it’s going to be dated the minute we finish it.
And the third piece is they hope and believe and need and know you need a strategy, but they don’t believe you’re going to get there. Strategy is like how we’re going to win, how we’re going to align. How we’re going to solve our financial problems and other things facing us, and they’re they’re resistant because they just see it happen so rarely in nonprofits.
So getting clear that you’re looking for number three mixed with good processes and a document that really reflects that strategy in the third section, and that strategy is like how the document is going and how we will do this the first year. Normally in a good strategy and dynamic strategy, you’re already doing it because it’s like so clear that it’s what you should be doing.
Step Two is to ask, do we need a strategy or a strategic plan at this point in time? Many organizations don’t, and you may be one of them. You may need some time to spend thinking about what you’re doing from the 30000- foot view, what to continue, what to eliminate, evaluation–those kinds of things, and you may be able to paste it back into a current strategy and just update it.
But if you are feeling like you’re not getting anywhere and you’re just putting out fires, if you have major questions unsolved, if you have people who want to go different directions and everyone’s confused about what the best way to move forward is—those are signs that strategy is probably needed and that’s the conversation to be very valuable to have with your naysayer, even if it’s yourself.
For those organizations who decide they do need a strategic plan and a new strategy, Step Three follows naturally. When we do the strategic plan, what do we want to do? We need how will we know we’ve succeeded. What do we need in the process? What do we need in a document, if any, and then most important, what key questions do we want to explore? Do we need answers to those? Three elements will allow you to work with the facilitator-consultant to create the strategy you need to move your organization forward and, in the fall of time, move strategic planning skeptics into believers.
If you have strategic planning resistance, share this video with those people and have a conversation about these three questions. If you need more about nonprofit strategic planning, check out my website. There’s an article called Nonprofit Strategy Planning 101: Your Guide.
Karen Eber Davis Consulting guides executive directors and CEOs to generate the resources, boards, and support they need to make remarkable progress on their missions. As the award-winning thought-leader, advisor, and founding principal of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, Karen helps nonprofit leaders get answers, generate revenue, and grow their mission. Davis is known for her innovation and practicality based on her work with or visits to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations and her experience leading board and team events. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.