Can You Can Get There from Here? 3 Must Planning Elements

A bridge in the woodsPlanning is one of the many overused but little-understood terms tossed around nonprofit organizations. Recently, several consultants were organizing an audio conference for nonprofit board members on the topic. We started by defining planning. Fifteen minutes later, we had also uncovered more questions than we had answers. If it took three experts fifteen minutes to begin to define planning —you will undoubtedly find some uncertainty in your organization.

You plan every day. After all, you make a plan when you run out of paper and draft a sticky note to stick on your key to remind you to order some after your meeting. You plan for events, vacations, and holidays. You outline how exactly you will improve transportation service for seniors. You design your evening.

For starters, here is a definition: planning consists of tasks, energy, and resources applied to create the desired future. Smart plans include three components:

  1. Identifying where you want to go; this is your vision

  2. Ascertaining where you are now or your starting point, and

  3. What bridge you will build to link these two points together.

These three components are universal to all planning. The segments show up in your smallest efforts, including where we should hold our special event and your big questions, such as the most effective way to cure cancer?

When you plan, all three areas require your attention. Which component do you find most comfortable? Most challenging?  Most people tell me that building the bridge is tough, but lack of a clear vision and a muddled starting place crumble excellent bridge designs.

Your challenge: Pick one project. Can you clearly describe where you want to go? Good enough to enter an address?

Karen Eber Davis

Before founding her firm, Karen Eber Davis developed the Sarasota County Community Development Block Grant Program. Under her leadership, this infant program received the National Association of Counties National Affordable Housing Award for the Down Payment Assistance Program. To date, the program helped over 1,800 families realize their dreams of homeownership. She also worked with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, where she developed the division’s first audit program. In an earlier position at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tampa, she organized senior, youth, and children groups plus family activities. Her youth staffing work with the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America supported youth ministries in 120 congregations in Florida.