Understanding Why Strategic Plans are Critical for a Nonprofit’s Success

Strategic plans are developed with a clear purpose – they define specific goals and illustrate the necessary pathways and timeframes toward achieving organizational success. Even with the best preparation, all nonprofit agencies assume some level of risk of encountering strategic challenges along the way. Understanding some of the key factors that can affect your strategy – and even lead to failure – can mitigate this risk and increase the likelihood of strategic success and mission fulfillment! Below are a few points to keep in mind:

A roadmap for the future

Leading nonprofits do not earn their status as the best at what they do by being followers; they know where they are going and how to get there and key to this is designing and implementing a long-term strategic plan. Developing a truly exceptional plan with the potential to guide an agency toward its greatest levels of achievement – that will directly affect its mission fulfillment – takes time, resources and good old-fashioned critical thinking. Invest the time and effort and your agency – and, most importantly, your clients – will be rewarded manifold.

Writing the plan and implementing goals

Though it may sound uncharacteristic, a strategic plan is a living document and should be cared for as such. Developed as guide maps, strategic plans should not have a long shelf-life; they should be meaningfully reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted accordingly as dictated by the dynamic internal and external environments upon which its original assumptions were drawn. Adaptability is key to long-term success. Likewise, a plan should not be created and then merely left on a shelf to collect dust. Writing an annual plan to support the strategic plan allows organizations to breakdown long-term goals and objectives into more manageable pieces, carefully monitor progress against goals, ensure the appropriateness of goals going forward and hold assigned staff accountable for results.

Commitment is critical

Without the proper commitment from your agency’s leadership team and buy in from others throughout the organization – strategy has little chance of realizing the accomplishments it was written to achieve. You are not only committing to your strategic plan – you are dedicating your efforts for the best outcomes for your clients – which is the reason for the plan, after all.

Assemble the right team for the job – both for planning and for strategy implementation

The right team doesn’t have to mean including all of the individuals with the proper titles or initials behind their names. The most effective team will be handpicked to include knowledgeable members who will be champions of the plan and serve as advocates throughout the agency to see the plan through from beginning to end – overcoming challenges and celebrating accomplishments along the way!

Conduct the proper analyses during plan development

Understanding the internal and external environments are crucial, as is being able to honestly and accurately evaluate where your agency is at present and where it needs to go in order to best serve its clients. Once these fundamentals are clear, a plan with the needed specifics can be developed that will put your agency’s best foot forward to achieve its mission and goals.

Accountability is key

Accountability and follow through are essential to guarantee that the goals set forth in your plan are accomplished. When those who are assigned with turning strategy into reality see that their efforts are meaningful and are contributing to a vital part of the agency’s mission, they will want to give their all to make this happen – both presently and for well into the future!


We hope these considerations have provided you with useful insight as you approach your strategic planning process. For additional information, please call us at 212.945.8504 or send questions to info@AccreditationGuru.com.

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