How to Assess Your Nonprofit Organization’s Readiness to Start a New Program

An all-out nonprofit organizational planning effort requires considerable time, energy, and commitment from everyone involved. Some nonprofits spend a year or more developing an organizational plan that encompasses everything that needs to be considered to begin work.

Don’t jump into the planning process without understanding that it will add to your workload and complicate your life for a period of time. Also, keep in mind that you can’t plan by yourself.

If you’re the executive director of a nonprofit organization who thinks that a full-bore planning effort is needed, but the board of directors doesn’t agree, don’t try to start the process on your own. Take a couple of steps backward and begin the work of persuading board members that planning is worth the effort.

Don’t start the planning process if your nonprofit is in crisis mode. It’s tempting, for example, to launch an organizational planning effort if you just lost a major source of funding. But you have more immediate concerns to deal with in that situation. Delay organizational planning until you see a period of smooth sailing.

If you have the support, and foreclosure isn’t hanging over your agency’s head, the best way to get started is to form a planning committee. This small group of board members, staff, and one or two outside people can take on the role of guiding the planning process and, in the beginning, pull together the questions, facts, and observations that you need to make your planning decisions.

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