When your organization started, the mission was probably clear. Someone (or several someones) had that powerful, “ah-ha!” moment. They thought there has to be a better way, or perhaps, we need to fix this!

But how do you do it? Whether you’re just launching, a few months in, or 30 years down the line it can be hard to figure out exactly what goals to work towards. That’s where strategic planning comes in.

A well-crafted strat plan is a map that helps you reach your destination without getting pulled off course. Formulating one requires identifying your goals and how you plan to achieve them, including the specific tactics and strategies you’ll use.

But let’s stop right there. Tactics, goals, strategies… what do these terms even mean? The concepts frequently get mixed up, making the process of keeping your team on-course even more challenging.

You can think of your strategic plan as a triangle: 

Goals are the broad aim toward which your efforts are directed–the reason you exist. They are the high-level view of where you are going and what you are trying to achieve but don’t describe how you will get there.

Each goal will have a number of objectives. These are specific and measurable milestones you need to reach in order to achieve your goal. They are the detail-level view of where you are going, describing specific milestones along the way from point A to B.

Underneath each objective, you would map out strategies. These are specific plans of action you will take in order to reach that objective. They are the high-level view of how you will get where you’re going.

And finally, you would figure out what tactics are required for each strategy. These are specific action steps you plan to take. They are the detail-level view of exactly what you are going to do.

For example…

Let’s say you are a non-profit with a mission to increase literacy levels in children in your area.

● One of the goals of your strategic plan might be to increase your financial sustainability.

● An objective to help reach that goal could be to increase the number of individual donations in the next year.

● One strategy to achieve this growth could be to streamline the online donation process.

● Streamlining online donations might include tactics of researching donation best practices or hiring a professional non-profit consultant.

Strategic planning is a chance to get out of the weeds and head to the forest – to make sure that each and every resource you have is being used wisely in the service of your mission. By clearly identifying your organization’s goals and the objectives, strategies and tactics you will use to reach them you can not only motivate donors, funders and other stakeholders but invigorate those within your organization as well!

“The work that Frank did with us in developing a strategic plan was outstanding. He led us through what I thought was going to be a painful endeavour, only to discover that it was an interesting and engaging experience. Under his guidance, leadership, and expertise we were able to focus on the tasks necessary at each stage of the plan development. He encouraged us to drill down and to challenge our thinking, to find our vision for ADAM’s future.”

– Ramona Bonwick

Chair, Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba

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