Ever have the experience where you read a blog post or article online and immediately say “That captures my thoughts perfectly! Why didn’t I write that?”. This week the honour goes to my friend and colleague Natalie Brown Kivell of Common Thread Consulting, specifically her post making the case for the humble strategic plan. Contrasting the view of strategic planning as a quick fix or a pointless activity done solely to please funders, Natalie provides five solid reasons for why planning should be part of your organization’s lifecycle and how both the process and the final product can provide tangible benefits.
For me, the key takeaway from Natalie’s post is that the strategic plan should be co-created through a participatory process, working with your organization’s diverse stakeholders. That term, “stakeholders”, gets thrown around a lot in the social change sector to the point of cliche, but think for a minute about the root of the term. Everybody – program participants, staff, volunteers, leadership, partnering agencies, funders, the broader community – has a stake in the success of the organization and its efforts. Every stakeholder stands to benefit in some way, but they also risk the loss of time, energy, resources, or even hope if things don’t work out. Stakeholders also commit in some way to the project, whether in terms of providing tangible resources, participating in good faith, or by providing indirect support such as a community playing host to a social service. With these diverse groups all having a stake in the non-profit’s success, it makes sense for all of them to be involved right from the beginning in the planning process.
At the end of this article Natalie mentioned that she’ll be writing some future posts on strategic planning, so be sure to keep an eye on her site!