How to build a strategic plan for your nonprofit (with template)

Immagine collaboratore team di AsanaTeam Asana25 marzo 20225 minuti di lettura
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Summary

Every organization needs a strategic plan—even if you’re a nonprofit. A strategic plan helps you define who you are, what you want to achieve, and how you’ll get there. Use our template to walk through the three steps of creating a strategic plan: Assessing your situation, developing your strategy and building your plan.

A strategic plan is like a toothbrush: everyone should have one and use it daily. If you don’t, you risk losing that shiny smile on your face. As a nonprofit organization, a strategic plan is a must.

If you’re not quite sure where to start and how a strategic plan will help your nonprofit grow, this article is for you. Learn what a strategic plan for nonprofit organizations should entail, how to write one, and check out our template for further inspiration.

What is a nonprofit strategic plan?

A nonprofit strategic plan is a tool that helps you define where your nonprofit organization wants to go and what actions you will take to achieve your goals.

At its core, the process for nonprofits doesn’t differ too much from the strategic planning process other organizations and industries embark on. Regardless of your form of work, you need a strategic plan to define where your organization wants to go and what actions you need to take in order to get there.

This plan should be updated every three to five years to ensure your organization continues challenging itself and growing.

[inline illustration] what is a strategic plan (infographic)

Before you can create an action plan or a roadmap for your nonprofit that drives results, you need to walk through the following three steps of strategic planning:

  • Step 1: Assess your current situation

  • Step 2: Develop your strategy

  • Step 3: Build your strategic plan

Once you’ve built your strategic plan, you can set KPIs and schedule the milestones your organization needs to hit in order to be successful.

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Whether you’re creating a strategic plan for the first time or updating your existing one, it’s important that you consult and involve the right people in this process. Create a strategic planning team that consists of senior executives, board members, and key team members who can contribute to the long-term success of your nonprofit.

We’ll walk you through the steps your strategic planning team will take on this journey and provide a template that you can use to assist your team during this process. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Assess your situation

Before you can figure out where you want to go, you need to assess where you are right now. Gather all the information you can about your nonprofit so your strategic planning team has a clear understanding of who you are and where you’re at.

Demographics: While some of these questions may seem trivial, it’s a good idea to start with questions that are easy to answer and align your strategic planning team.

  • How big is your organization?

  • Where are you located?

  • What is your annual net asset?

  • How many people do you employ?

  • What is your target demographic?

Success and goals: Before you dive into the details, it’s good practice to give yourself credit for the things you’ve accomplished in the past. First of all, this will give you better clarity on your strengths and opportunities (which you’ll analyze in more depth later). But this also puts your strategic planning team in a positive and optimistic mood which will make the process much easier and more enjoyable.

  • What were your biggest accomplishments so far?

  • Do you have any goals set for the future?

  • How thought-out are these goals, and do they meet SMART goal criteria?

Capital: As a nonprofit, money may not be your main driver. However, in order to make an impact, you need capital. So ask yourself where you’re currently getting your revenue.

  • Does the government fund you?

  • How successful has fundraising been in the past?

  • Who are your donors or sponsors?

  • What other revenue streams do you have?

  • Are there any revenue sources you haven’t considered yet?

  • What does your grant management process typically look like?

Stakeholders: A stakeholder analysis is key in strategic planning. Your internal and external stakeholders are the people who can impact the success of your organization, so you need to know who they are and what their roles are. 

Internal stakeholders are team members who are directly impacted by the strategic plan and likely the ones who are already on your strategic planning team. External stakeholders are usually agencies, clients, or other parties who are involved financially or contribute otherwise to the performance of your organization.

  • Who are our top stakeholders (internal and external)?

  • Why do they believe in our nonprofit?

  • What do we need from them (e.g., labor, capital, marketing, etc.)?

  • Why do we believe and trust in these stakeholders?

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats: Finally, you’ll want to conduct a SWOT analysis to find out  your internal strengths and weaknesses and how external threats and opportunities can influence your nonprofit’s success. 

  • What makes us stand out from other nonprofits in the industry?

  • What past events have impacted our success and why?

  • Are there any weaknesses that have prevented us from reaching our full potential in the past?

Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis, you’re ready for the next step: developing your nonprofit’s strategy.

Step 2: Develop your strategy

In this phase of the strategic planning process, you’ll take the information you’ve gathered in step one and put your heads together to define who you want to be as an organization—more precisely, you’ll define your values, mission, and vision statements.

[inline illustration] Mission, vision, and values definition (infographic)

Mission and vision statement

You’ll want to start out with your mission and vision statements. If you already have these statements in place, review and consider updating them to match your new strategy.

It’s not always easy to come up with vision and mission statements for your nonprofit organization. That’s why it can be helpful to check out how others have put their dreams into writing. Take a look at three examples of how nonprofit organizations define their vision and mission:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s mission and vision statements are very closely intertwined. The organization’s mission is to “Create a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.” Their vision is to help all people lead a healthy and productive life.

The American Red Cross

The mission statement of the American Red Cross is to prevent and alleviate “Human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.​”

Their vision statement reads as follows: “The American Red Cross, through its strong network of volunteers, donors and partners, is always there in times of need. We aspire to turn compassion into action.”

The Research Foundation for The State University of New York

The Research Foundation of SUNY’s mission is to provide “Talent, services, and technology that empower SUNY to research, innovate, and transfer discoveries that transform the world’s knowledge economy.”

Their vision is to “Make it the best place for faculty, students and staff to research, innovate, and solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

Company values

Next, you’ll want to define your nonprofit’s core values. Try to define anywhere between five to 10 values that describe your organization and align with your mission and vision.

Here are some examples of values that could describe your nonprofit:

  • Reliability

  • Innovation

  • Integrity

  • Teamwork

  • Service

  • Diversity

  • Trustworthiness

  • Loyalty

  • Honesty

  • Communication

  • Fairness

  • Safety

  • Respect

  • Inclusion

  • Agility

  • Transparency

Assessing where you’re at and defining who you are are two crucial steps in the strategic planning process. They build the foundation for your strategic plan that you’re ready to create now that you’ve put in the groundwork.

Step 3: Build your strategic plan

The heart of your strategic plan consists of your strategic priorities and goals for the future. They will inspire your implementation plan and ultimately define how effective and successful your new strategy will be. 

You should pick at least three main strategic priorities based on what you’ve learned from your SWOT analysis. For example, if your SWOT analysis showed that you only have a couple of revenue sources, you could make “diversifying revenue streams” a strategic priority. 

Your strategic priorities don’t have to be super built out—that’s what happens in the next and final step of your strategic plan.

Step 4: Create SMART goals

Creating SMART objectives is crucial so you can successfully put your new strategy into action.

Your SMART goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. For example, to diversify your revenue streams, your SMART goal could be:

“Over the next three years, we plan to add at least seven new revenue streams to our repertoire by applying to one new government fund per quarter, hosting monthly fundraisers on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter), and bi-annual in-person charity events.”

Nonprofit strategic plan template and example

Use our template to build a strategic plan for your nonprofit that drives results. Don’t forget to include stakeholders, your board of directors, and key staff members in your strategic planning process—their insight and ideas will shape the future of your company.

Here is what your nonprofit strategic plan can look like once you start working on it:

[inline illustration] nonprofit strategic plan template (example)

You can download the template using the button below and modify it to your organization’s needs.

Free strategic plan for nonprofit template

Put your plan into action

After you’ve built your strategic plan, there’s just one step left: put it into action. Implementing your strategic plan is both rewarding and scary. All the hard work you put into building a strategy for your nonprofit is about to come to fruition.

With the support of Asana’s goal-setting software, you can turn your strategic plan into actionable steps so you can easily track, manage, and share your strategic initiatives with shareholders and teammates.

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