Strategic planning is one of the tools and means of solving specific organizational problems. This article will explain the basics of strategic planning for NPOs, its pros and cons, and famous examples.
The importance of strategic planning in NPOs
Traditionally, strategic planning is carried out by commercial organizations. As for nonprofits, they have begun to realize the importance and necessity of strategic planning, and only a few have a strategic plan. Many people think that planning requires a significant investment of energy, time, and resources, and many NPOs are in no hurry to do it. Some take the Charter for a strategic plan; others have a strategic plan written for donors as it is required to receive funding, although the manager and staff consider such planning unimportant. There are organizations where the leader mentally imagines what the organization should do, but these thoughts are not formalized in writing and are unfamiliar to employees.
Although the written plan is essential, drafting it is no less critical. Organizing and conducting strategic planning becomes important since that plan is effective. Those strategies are developed not by one person but by a team and employees who will then implement them. A strategy is a general, comprehensive plan for achieving goals, containing long-term goals for the organization’s activities and development, tactical goals, and objectives. Each employee must understand and share the purposes of the organization.
Strategic management is such management of a nonprofit organization that relies on human potential as the basis of the organization, orients production activities to consumer needs, responds flexibly, and makes timely changes in the organization that meet the challenge from the environment and allow achieving competitive advantages, which together makes it possible organizations to survive in the long term while achieving their goals”. Strategic management aims to determine what the organization can strive for and at what level it should go to survive and develop. In the process of strategic planning, the organization analyzes the external and internal environment of activity. It looks for the most appropriate goals, strategies, and actions to achieve them.
Examples of successful planning
The problems of strategic management in NPOs are decisively determined by the strong dependence of organizations on external influences, relationships with key stakeholders that provide them with funding, granting licenses, etc. Therefore, of all the functions of NPO leaders, mediation is the main one. Maintaining good relations with sponsors objectively leads to an increase in the tendency to centralize management: top management tries to increase its power to reduce the likelihood of such behavior at the lower organizational levels that could displease sponsors. However, in some NPOs, power, determined by the ability to influence the decision-making process, naturally flows to professionals from the operational core (for example, in hospitals – to leading specialists), and the requirement for centralization leads to a deterioration in the quality of decisions and demotivation of professionals.
So, there are the following famous nonprofit strategic plan examples to inspire organizations:
- Harvesters Community Food Bank’s Strategic Plan 2023-2025
- Chicago Community Trust Strategic Plan FAQs
- Horizons Atlanta Strategic Plan 2019 – 2021.
By the way, strategic planning and long-range planning cover several years. However, strategic planning requires the organization to examine what it is and its working environment. Strategic planning also helps the organization to focus its attention on the crucial issues and challenges.