A Personal Journey to Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management Part 1 of 8: Strategic Planning
My why? To help people live healthier and happier lives. And I’m lucky enough to say my workplace allows me to live this passion by focusing my career supporting nonprofits. Every day I get to help mission-driven organizations make a difference in this world by communicating and engaging with their audiences effectively.
The bonus – JPA is investing in my professional growth. I’m embarking on getting a Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management by the Society for Nonprofits and Michigan State University.
But what journey is fun without sharing the adventures with others? Welcome to my education voyage. My first course was on strategic planning, which for a nonprofit is “a long-term, future-oriented process of assessment, goal setting, and decision-making that maps an explicit path between the present and a vision of the future.”
Here are the top four lessons I learned:
- Be Basic. Strategic planning has been around for decades and there is no better place to start then the original tenets of the planning process – information gathering and analysis, identifying critical issues, vision, mission, goal, strategies and annual objectives.
- Mo’ People. Mo’ Strategic Thinking. In the case of strategic planning, “more” doesn’t equate problems, but rather opportunities. More, diverse perspectives from people both inside and outside an organization helps expand organizational borders. In fact, the diverse perspectives can provide a deeper understanding of the people the organization is serving.
- Light the Sparks. Things are always changing. We must accept that and be the spark to light the fire – assuring more innovation in an organization’s strategic planning. Promote intuitive thinking. Demand risk-taking. Challenge everything. It is only then an organization can start a revolution, strategically.
- Grind Now. Shine Later. Every nonprofit starts with a dream. And every dream takes investment. Strategic planning is that investment, and it’s not a one-time thing. Develop an operating plan as part of the process yearly. This will help an organization pinpoint its goals, objectives, strategies, who is responsible for each task and deadlines for completion. Every year, a strategic plan’s objectives should be implemented, monitored, adjusted and evaluated to inform updates to the current plan and to set objectives and budget for the next year.
As communicators, we’re only as effective as the strategic plan developed and implemented to be our foundational blueprint. It is only then we can make an impact, ultimately improving lives.
Stay tuned – up next is all about the Benjamin’s (resource development).
Please be sure to read about each step of my Personal Journey to Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management:
Melissa Zuckerman is an Account Director at JPA Health