How to Create Your Nonprofit Organizational Plan
Organizational planning is what people usually think about when they consider nonprofit planning. An organizational plan, usually covering a three- to five-year period, sets goals for the organization and describes the objectives that must be accomplished to achieve those goals.
The steps for successful organizational planning are as follows:
Decide whether it’s the right time to plan.
Make no mistake: An all-out organizational planning effort requires considerable time, energy, and commitment from everyone involved. Some nonprofits spend a year or more developing an organizational plan. 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.
Look at your mission.
Keep your mission statement in mind throughout the planning process. At every turn, ask yourself: If we do this, will we be true to our mission? Will this new program we’re considering help us accomplish what we want to do?
Assess the external and internal situation.
The decisions you make are only as good as the information on which you base them. Therefore, it’s important to find the best and most up-to-date data available that may have an impact on your organization and its programs.
Are other nonprofits providing similar services in the community? If so, how are our services different?
What are the demographic trends in our area? Will these trends have an impact on the number of people who may need or use our services?
What are the trends in the professional area in which our nonprofit operates? Are new methods being developed? Does the future show a shortage of professionally trained staff?
How stable are the funding sources on which we depend? What about changes in government funding? Can we find new potential sources of funding?
What are the organization’s major accomplishments? What are its milestones?
Is the board of directors fully engaged with the organization? Should any weaknesses on the board be filled? Is the board engaged in fundraising?
What are the capabilities of the staff? Does the organization have enough staff to implement changes in how it operates? Is staff training needed?
Has the organization operated within its budget? Is financial reporting adequate? Are appropriate financial controls in place?
Does the organization have adequate technology? Do employees need additional training in using technological tools? What are its future equipment needs?
Does the organization have a variety of funding sources? Are funding sources stable?
Hear from stakeholders.
A stakeholder is someone who has a reason for wanting the organization to succeed. Paid employees and, presumably, members of the board certainly qualify. But although these two groups may be the most closely connected to the nonprofit, they’re by no means the only people who have a stake in the organization’s success.
You should include all the following groups in planning:
Board of directors
Users of services
Write the plan.
Although having a plan is important, flexibility in its implementation is just as important. Things change. Reviewing your plan is an ongoing activity; probably once a year, you should submit your organizational plan to a formal review by the stakeholders who developed it.