As I work with nonprofits, I encounter confusion on the difference between strategy and planning, especially when it comes to growing revenue. This post explores both, explains their differences, and provides examples of each.
A nonprofit strategy identifies different routes to the future you want. It explains how you will win enough resources and enough supporters to create exemplary mission results. A good strategy provides overall direction. You use it long-term. You can condense strategy into a few well-chosen words to convey its essence.
Nonprofit planning works best when used with a strategy. Planning gets specific. The planning timeframe can be for ten minutes or three years. It’s always finite. Plans can be simple: Go to the store and buy milk. They can be complicated: Take one step per day for 365 days to plan the gala. Using the strategies above, the examples below illustrate how strategy and planning enhance each other.
You can have a strategy without a plan and a plan without a strategy. When linked, a strategy, such as we want to go north during the heat of the summer, and a plan that includes hotel reservations and a tank full of gas, allow you to reach your destination efficiently and effectively. To grow your nonprofit’s income, create a strategy that will set your way to winning; then make your plans to get there.
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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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