Fulfilling the mission of your nonprofit with maximum efficiency and impact is the overarching goal in your strategic plan. Articulating specific goals and outlining the action steps and resources needed to accomplish them are critical in your nonprofit organization.
Determining the direction and the elements of the strategic plan all start with engaging in the "SWOT" analysis process. The "SWOT" analysis identifies the current situation that your organization is, which identifies the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your organization.
Along with the "SWOT" analysis, it is important to have goals in your strategic plan. When developing the goals - it is important to relate the goals in the "SMART" technique. Here, the "SMART" acronym stands for the 5 key descriptions as to what your goals need to be;
- Specific - your goal needs to be specific in order to fully understand and comprehend the extent of the actions needed.
- Measurable - each goal must be able to be measured so that the effectiveness can be assessed and analyzed to be sure that it is fully being accomplished.
- Achievable - your goals should also be reasonable and attainable, it also lets you know how you will achieve your goal and have you realize how realistic your goal is.
- Relevant - this is important in determining how relevant your goals are to your cause. Knowing that this goal is necessary for the big picture is critical to maximizing your resources.
- Time-bound - your goals are always on a time schedule. Knowing how to allocate your resources within a time limit is important for effectiveness within your organization's overall strategic plan.
That being said - no organization exists in a static environment. The landscape is constantly changing no matter the industry, but even internal goals and needs of the organization are due to change at the drop of the hat. The needs of the organization today do not necessarily meet the needs of the organization tomorrow.
For example, the Brooklyn Public Library's Executive Director Martin Gomez explained their five-year strategic plan that highlights the versatility of their plans. "Ultimately, we'll be able to create virtual collections of print, video, and multimedia that can be accessed from any of 59 branch libraries throughout Brooklyn, as well as by library users in other parts of New York City," Gomez says. "That wouldn't have been a top-line priority a decade ago. Today it is."
Knowing exactly what direction your strategic plan is pointed doesn't necessarily apply in the entire business lifetime. Technological innovation, demographic switches, economic environment - there are numerous reasons for the plan to be altered and it is more expected than a possibility.
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