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Strategic Planning: A Beginner’s 5 Step Guide

Does your organization have a strategic plan? Do you have a clear path of action to accomplish your mission and fulfill your vision? Strategic planning is the first and most important step in building a successful organization, no matter its size. Without one, not only will you have trouble reaching your goals, you’ll be a tough sell for funders to want to invest their funding dollars. So what is a strategic plan, and how do you make one?

What Is A Strategic Plan?

“Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.”


In other words, strategic planning is how an organization determines what practical action steps are necessary to take their clearly defined mission statement and make it actually happen. 

5 Steps To Developing A Solid Strategic Plan

Sound daunting? Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you might think, especially if you already have a clear mission and vision statement.

Step 1: Identify Your Current Position

Using your mission statement as a framework for what success looks like for you, determine how close you are to achieving the goal of your mission. Ask the following questions:

  1. What resources are already in place?
  2. What resources are still needed?
  3. What steps have already been taken?
  4. What still needs to be done?

Step 2: Outline Your Strategy

Identify what work has yet to be done and organize those tasks in stages, prioritizing the steps that will have the greatest impact. Ask the following questions:

  1. Which types of impact are the highest priority for us right now? 
  2. Which of these initiatives are most in line with our mission/vision?
  3. What resources/steps/individuals are needed to accomplish these tasks/goals?
  4. How will we measure our success?

Step 3: Put It Into Action

Now that you’ve identified, prioritized, and established the necessary steps and resources needed, it’s time to assign those tasks to your team with clear objectives, instructions, and timelines.

Step 4: Measure Your Progress/Success

It’s important to keep a record of outcomes as you implement your plan. Not only will this data be crucial information for your organization going forward in determining what works and what doesn’t, but it is also a requirement to be eligible for funding from grantmakers.

Step 5: Revise & Adjust

Be intentional about reviewing your strategic plan in light of your measured outcomes. Is it working? Is it helping you achieve your goals? Is it still in line with your mission and vision? It’s not uncommon for a strategic plan to need tweaking and adjusting every now and then. Learning what doesn’t work is just as important as learning what does work, but all the effort of creating a strategic plan and measuring outcomes is wasted if we don’t use them effectively, just as a compass is only useful if you’re willing to adjust your course! 

Happy strategic planning, friends!

More Resources:

The Strategic Planning Process in 4 Steps

Strategic Management: 3 Steps to the Cycle of Success

5 steps of the strategic planning process

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