Effective Strategic Planning
P L A N N I N G
Getting Your Organization Focused and Directed
Launched in 1982 by Jim and Patty Ro u s e ,
The Enterprise Foundation is a national,
nonprofit housing and community d e ve l o p-
ment organization dedicated to bringing lasting
i m p rove m e n t s to distressed communities.
Copyright 1999, The Enterprise Foundation, Inc.
All rights reserved.
No content from this publication may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or
any information storage and retrieval system, without
permission from the Communications department of
The Enterprise Foundation. However, you may photo-
copy any worksheets or sample pages that may be
contained in this manual.
This publication is designed to provide accurate and
authoritative information on the subject covered.
It is sold with the understanding that The Enterprise
Foundation is not rendering legal, accounting or other
project-specific advice. For expert assistance, contact
a competent professional.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT LIBRARY™
This book is part of the Enterprise Community
Development Library, an i n valuable re f e rence collection
for nonprofit organizations dedicated to revitalizing and
reconnecting neighborhoods to mainstream America.
One of many resources available t h rough Enterprise, it
offers industry - p roven information in simple, easy-to-
read formats. From planning to governance, fund rais-
ing to money management, and program operations to
communications, the Community De ve l o p m e n t
L i b r a ry will help your organization succeed.
ADDITIONAL ENTERPRISE RESOURCES
The Enterprise Foundation provides nonprofit
organizations with expert consultation and training
as well as an extensive collection of print and online
tools. For more information, please visit our Web site
About This Manual
What is strategic planning?
Strategic planning is an essential process in preparing to carry
out your organization’s mission. An effective strategic planning
process provides a framework to make decisions on how to allocate
organizational resources, address challenges and take advantage of
opportunities that arise along the way.
Effective Strategic Planningwas created for staff and board members
of community development organizations. It describes the process
for developing an organizational strategic plan, from preparation to
development and implementation. Worksheets are provided to assist
with planning tasks. The manual includes information on:
s When to undertake strategic planning
s Who should be involved
s The five elements of a strategic plan
s A case study of strategic planning
Table of Contents
s How to organize the plan for presentation
This manual is part of the Planning series within The Enterprise
Basic Steps of Strategic Planning
Foundation’s Community Development Library™. Other manuals
in the series provide detailed information on:
Preparing to Plan
s Creating business plans
Elements of a Strategic Plan
s Developing community-based plans
Define Vision, Mission, Activities
Scan the Environment Using a
Identify and Prioritize
Define Strategic Goals
Establish an Implementation and
Case Study of Strategic Planning
SWOT Analysis Worksheets
Nonprofit community development organiza-
tions face an array of challenges and opportuni-
ties carrying out their missions. Failing to
identify these challenges or opportunities —
and plan accordingly — can lead to organiza-
tional paralysis, decline and eventual collapse.
Strategic planning is an essential process in
every organization’s success.
Strategic planning focuses on establishing your
organizational direction, setting priorities and
identifying obstacles and opportunities that may
limit or enable you to carry out your mission.
Through a productive strategic planning
process, your organization’s leadership will clar-
ify and affirm the mission and values of the
organization and define its role in the commu-
nity. The process can also identify external and
internal challenges and opportunities that you
may encounter and help you design well-
thought-out strategies to address them.
Properly used, strategic planning is a powerful
tool to keep your organization energized,
focused and effective.
Basic Steps of Strategic Planning
The sequence of the basic steps involved in the
A community planning process can assist the
strategic planning process is shown below.
organization in identifying strategic issues based
on an analysis of existing conditions in the com-
The Basic Steps of Strategic Planning
m u n i t y. These issues are often used in the strate-
gic planning process. A community plan might
Prepare To Plan
also identify potential roles for an organization to
fill in the community. For more information on
Define and Review Organizational
community planning, see A Guide to Community
Vision, Mission, Activities and Values
Pl a n n i n g , another manual in the Pl a n n i n g s e r i e s
Do an Environmental Scan or SWOT
of the Community De velopment Library.
(strengths, weaknesses, opportunities
and threats) Analysis.
Identify Strategic Issues
Develop Strategic Goals and Objectives
Create Implementation Plans To Achieve
Goals and Carry Out Objectives
Monitor and Evaluate Periodically
and Adjust if Necessary
Strategic planning should not be confused with
other planning processes such as business plan-
ning, program planning or community plan-
ning, also referred to as neighborhood planning.
Although closely related, strategic planning
focuses on establishing your organizational
direction, setting priorities and identifying
obstacles and opportunities that may limit
or enable you to carry out your mission.
Business plans and program work plans are often
by p roducts of the strategic planning pro c e s s .
After organizational priorities are set and strategic
goals and objectives are articulated, these plans
a re used to describe the implementation details
of various strategies such as budget, staffing,
funding sources and evaluation activities.
Preparing To Plan
Before undertaking a strategic planning process,
OBTAIN SUPPORT OF
your organization will need to decide when it is
O R G A N I Z A T I O N A L L E A D E R S H I P
the appropriate time to embark on such a jour-
ney. The final decision to engage in a strategic
Be f o re proceeding with a strategic plan, the board
planning process should be made by the leader-
of directors of the organization must support the
ship or governing board. Once the decision is
decision to undertake the process and commit to
made, your organization will need to allocate
seeing it through to completion. Planning for the
financial, board, staff and time resources to the
f u t u re success of the organization is the re s p o n s i-
strategic planning process, and design a process
bility of the board of dire c t o r s .
that fits your situation.
Failing to obtain the support and commitment
WHEN TO PLAN
of the board of the directors can result in lim-
ited input and participation from leadership. It
If your organization is in the early stages of for-
may also lead to a strategic plan that is not fully
mation, a strategic planning session can assist
embraced by the leadership. This sense of own-
leadership in selecting an area on which to ini-
ership is crucial because the board of directors
tially focus organizational resources and atten-
will be responsible for overseeing the implemen-
tion. It will also help your nonprofit establish
tation of the plan.
program goals and guidelines.
DESIGN A PROCESS TO FIT
For more seasoned organizations, a strategic
Y O U R O R G A N I Z A T I O N
planning process is most necessary when leader-
ship is considering a major shift in programs or
Time is probably the most important element
s e rvices, or if major changes in the enviro n m e n t
to consider in designing the planning process.
or community (governmental, demographics,
Allow approximately three to nine months to
funding, etc.) cause a shift in focus or a re d i re c-
conduct all of the tasks related to the process
tion of re s o u rces. The process is also important if
and additional time for review and approval by
the organization has experienced rapid grow t h .
the full leadership. As mentioned earlier, if your
organization is in the middle of a crisis and can-
A strategic planning process should not be done
not allocate adequate time and attention to the
when your organization is in the middle of a cri-
process, leadership may wish to consider post-
sis or in the process of changing key board
poning the process.
members or staff. If your leadership is focused
on resolving a short-term crisis, they will not
In designing the planning process, the leader-
direct adequate attention and resources toward
ship needs to consider the objectives it seeks to
the strategic planning process. Complete accep-
achieve. In addition to producing the elements
tance or buy-in is essential for the successful
of the plan (such as clarification of your organi-
implementation of the plan. This also holds true
zation’s mission and vision or identification of
if the organizational leadership is in the middle
strategic goals and objectives), the planning
of a transition. New leadership may not
process can be designed to achieve other objec-
embrace a plan reflecting the philosophies and
tives. These include increasing the sense of own-
priorities of the previous leadership.
ership by the board of directors in current
organizational activities, strengthening partner-
ships with other organizations or institutions,
building greater public support and understand-
ing of the organization, and increasing the inter-
action between board and staff.
In the early stages, it may be helpful to survey
the leadership regarding any other “non-
planning” objectives to be achieved. Other fac-
tors to consider include time availability, inter-
nal capacity and access to external resources.
Depending on its “non-planning” objectives,
your organization may decide to design a
process with different levels of board, staff, con-
sultant and external participation. However,
keep in mind that the board of directors is ulti-
mately responsible for approving and allocating
the resources to implement the plan. At a mini-
mum, the full board of directors needs to be
kept informed throughout the process.
The following chart lists the advantages and
disadvantages of several approaches to the strate-
gic planning process. The selected process can
be a combination of these approaches.
Plan Developed By:
Full Board of Directors
s Ownership by leadership
s Time availability may be lim-
ited and scheduling difficult
s Board becomes more
informed about programs
s May not achieve
s Clear understanding
s Limited board involvement
and subsequent ownership
s Time flexibility
s May detract from other
s Manageable size
s Full board may not feel
sense of ownership of
s Can include a variety
of perspectives (such as
board, staff, partners,
s Board perspectives may
s Good understanding of
s Limited board and staff
participation may lead to
limited sense of ownership
s Should produce timely and
of plan details
s Limited board
After selecting a planning approach, you will
In addition to finding internal or external
need to identify your organization’s capacity
sources to fill the above roles, identify the
and resources to carry out the planning tasks.
You should also fill the following roles:
s Financial resources — Funding for consul-
s Leader — To keep the process moving and
tant and facilitator expenses, rental of ade-
make sure that the people who need to be
quate space for the planning sessions, and
involved are. Often the board chair, strategic
materials and supplies needed for the planning
planning committee chair or executive director
fills this role.
s Skills, knowledge, expertise — It may be
s Fa c i l i t a t o r — To help with difficult discussions
helpful to have individuals with knowledge
and heated debates, and to enable eve ryone to
and expertise in fields related to the programs
p a rticipate and focus on the task at hand. Ke e p
or activities conducted by your organization.
in mind that the facilitator’s ability to make
These professionals may include attorneys,
decisions is limited, so key board or staff may
bankers, real estate developers, human service
not be the best option for filling this ro l e .
p rofessionals, etc. If your organization does not
have the expertise in-house, check with local
s Researchers, interviewers, writers — To
colleges and universities, professional groups
research, conduct interviews, perform calcula-
and clubs, and the local chamber of commerc e .
tions and projections, and document the
process and produce the written plan. If avail-
After all the above elements in the plan are iden-
able, this is a role that staff and volunteers
tified, the full design should be approved by the
organizational leadership and shared with the
participants in the planning process.
Elements of a Strategic Plan
An activities statement describes the business
or general activities you will use to achieve the
Five elements comprise a strategic plan:
Define mission, vision, activities
A va l u e s statement describes the principles
a n d beliefs that guide the operations of
Scan the environment using a
These statements provide a filter through which
Identify and prioritize strategic issues
important decisions for the organization and the
standards for evaluating the effectiveness of your
Define strategic goals and objectives
programs and activities can be screened.
Establish an implementation plan
As the “owners” or representatives of the mem-
bership of the organization, the board of direc-
tors is responsible for creating or modifying the
mission, vision, activities and values statements.
Define Vision, Mission,
Staff members can also be involved since they
Activities and Values
are responsible for day-to-day activities and may
provide a valuable perspective on the work.
The foundation of the strategic plan is the
vision, mission, activities and values of the orga-
Before you create or review your vision, mission,
nization. When articulated in formal state-
activities and values, take time to review the his-
ments, they provide the framework for
tory of your organization. This will help refresh
identifying strategic goals. The statements pro-
the memories of long-tenured board members
vide a vision or target goal for the organization
and provide a better foundation for newer mem-
to achieve and define what the organization
bers. Schedule a re t reat where board members
does and why. They should be created or
and staff describe (chronologically) major events
reviewed as the first step in formulating the
leading to the creation of the organization, indi-
organization’s strategic plan. Building and
viduals who played significant roles, victories
Managing a Better Board,one of the manuals in
and program accomplishments, funding sources
the Community Development Library’s
and other supporters, and your organization’s
Governanceseries, has more information and
focus at various points in time.
exercises on writing vision, mission, activities
and values statements.
Reviewing the history will give board members a
collective sense of what role the organization has
A v i s i o n statement tells eve ryone the type of
filled in the past and can assist them in deciding
community or world the organization envisions
what it can be in the future.
for its constituency as a result of the work of
A mission statement describes what the organiza-
tion will do, who it will do it for and how it will
achieve the vision. The mission statement is
often the only statement many people will read
about an organization.
V I S I O N
A C T I V I T I E S
Even if your organization has a vision, mission
The activities of the organization, which
and activities statement, it is helpful to go
describe what your organization will do to
through several exercises that may either affirm
achieve its mission, should be summarized in
the exiting statements or provide a basis to
one sentence. Board members should discuss
specifically what business or activity their non-
profit will use to reach its mission and why.
To create the vision, board members should
provide answers to the following questions:
Sample Activities Statement:
Develop affordable housing and other services,
s As a result of the work of the organization,
such as child care and job training, and help
how will the community or the lives of the
residents access our services.
organization’s constituents be changed?
s What will the community look like?
V A L U E S
How will its members interact?
Values are your core beliefs and principles. They
s How will the organization be perceived in
define why you carry out your mission the
the community? What will be its image?
way you do and help develop strategic objectives
When people describe the organization,
and work plans. To define your organization’s
what terms will they use?
values, board members should answer the
Your vision will serve as the overall goal for
which strategies will be developed to achieve.
s Why is it important for this organization to
carry out its activities?
Sample Vision Statement:
Create a community in which all residents are
s In all of the organization’s activities, what
housed in safe and quality housing regardless
should be the underlying principles that
of their household income.
cannot be compromised?
Sample Values Statement:
M I S S I O N
Neighborhood residents must be involved in
key decisions affecting their lives.
The mission describes the approach the organi-
zation will take to achieve the vision. To articu-
In many organizations the vision, mission, activ-
late your mission, board members should
ities and values statements are integrated into
answer the following questions:
one comprehensive “mission statement.” Other
s What will the organization do to accomplish
organizations use a combination of two state-
ments. If you decide to have one statement, it
is important that all the elements of mission,
s What types of services or products will the
vision, activities and values are included. It is
organization provide (housing counseling,
equally important that this statement be clearly
housing construction and rehabilitation,
written and kept short and direct, since your
educational services, economic development
mission statement is listed in most of your
publications and proposals.
s Who will be the primary beneficiaries of
Sample Mission Statement:
Increase the amount of affordable housing and
home ownership in Ward 10, Washington, D.C.,
and help those residents achieve better lives.