Nonprofit Strategic Planning

Vividly painted public art on side of building in Rome.“It would have been easy to dust off an old strategic plan and stay with the tried and true. Instead, with the 2020 strategic plan, we’ve really pivoted towards more challenging conversations about the climate crisis and diversity, equity, and inclusion.” – Owen Heleen, outgoing Board President, Audubon Society of RI

Our approach to nonprofit strategic planning

No, we emphatically don’t believe nonprofit strategic planning is dead. Ask the many clients we’ve worked with over the years.

We know how critically important thinking and looking ahead is to your staff, your clients, your community and your revenue development.  With our help, you can plan even in an environment of continuous change. Our tried and true process guides you through a systematic look at your organization and the world around. We’ll help you agree on a visionary future and chart the strategic path that will take you there.

We can help you develop a plan for your whole organization, for your coalition or collaboration, or for your priority areas and initiatives, such as revenue development or programming.

Here’s what you get:

  1. A clear, shared vision of the community betterment you want to create — long-term and over the life of the plan.
  2. Clarification of your values and the theory of change that defines your core strategy.
  3. Goals with clear and specific objectives for each so that you can measure strategic progress over time.
  4. A realistic projection of what you’ll need in terms of staff and and other new capacity to achieve your vision.
  5. Budget forecasts so you know what it costs to achieve your plan.

Sample Plan: Thank you to Economic Progress Institute for letting us share your strategic plan. We are very proud to have worked with you on this. Your work is so critically important for equity for Rhode Islanders.

Our strategic planning assistance will take you through five steps.

1. Discovery

Your best ideas, imagination and intuition must be backed up by a solid base of knowledge. We bring integrity to the collection of data, help you benchmark against similar organizations, look for best practices and talk to your stakeholders and other critical informants. You’ll gain the most from this work when you participate directly in those conversations.

2. Analysis

Once you’ve gathered relevant data, we’ll help you locate, frame and analyze information to identify the most critical questions and strategic solutions. You’ll gain a better understanding of what’s possible with your current capacity, what you’ll need to do differently, and what choices are available to you. We bring creativity and a valuable strategic sensibility to these conversations. And, we are logic model- theory of change super fans! (you can also see one in the sample plan above) You’ll create one with us that grounds your movement forward – finally putting all those assumptions you’ve been carrying around in your head on paper for all to agree to.

3. Decision-making

Our clients tell us that helping them reach common ground on a course of action is one of the most valuable results of working with us. We know that choosing your desired future requires both courage and clarity. We will challenge your organization to surpass assumed limits to what you can achieve, while carefully anticipating the costs and commitments that your envisioned future will demand from individuals and the whole organization.

4. Implementation

Vision and commitment are nothing without action. At t this stage you’ll turn your to-do list into a will-do list of first year priorities (after that, you are really just making stuff up). We’ll help you develop flexible implementation schedules, budgets and time-bound and measurable objectives. The degree of detail is determined by your needs and resources.

5. Evaluation

We’ll work with you to create benchmarks by which you can measure your progress.  If you’d like, we’ll check in with you over the first year to see how well your change effort is going and help you get back on track.

Cause & Effect Guide to Strategic Planning