Here’s the text of an email I sent today to the president of the Board of Directors of a non-profit. I think it speaks to how to do streamlined strategic planning for a non-profit.
“Hi, Meg – The best way to make this process go expeditiously is to prepare a draft plan for the Board to look at. The work we do before hand with the executive committee should be oriented to creating that plan. We’ve already decided on the format for the plan.
“The key decisions the Board needs to make revolve around reaffirming the mission of the organization – and then deciding the specific goals/priorities to achieve – within its resources. The key questions to ask are: ‘What’s our underlying strategy in terms of how we will achieve each goal? How will we re-allocate resources to assure we have the capacity to achieve it?’ Don’t make the mistake of setting goals and then starving the organization of resources to achieve them!
For example, if raising money from grants is a priority, then you’ll need capacity to research and develop grants. If generating revenue from fee-for-service programs is a priority, then you’ll need capacity to manage those programs. You have to work through the options, decide where the impact will be greatest, and make choices.
For each potential goal, keep asking, do we have the capacity? If not, how will we get it? At what cost? What will be the benefit? Is the return to our mission significant?
I look forward to seeing you all and helping you lead this to a successful conclusion.