How To Write A High-Impact Strategic Plan

This week I had an intense call with a friend/client of mine who is in the process of re-branding his nonprofit organization and is working through his ideas of what he feels is the next best step for his cause. To give him credit, branding and strategic planning is exhausting, mentally wearing experiences. I joke with my coach sometimes that it was a miracle I survived the torture he put me through when it came time to writing my own strategic plan. Not so fun.

Writing a high-impact strategic plan comes down to three core areas (thanks Ken for this awesome wisdom you taught me). You have to build out these 3 areas in order if you really want to build a meaningful, helpful, marketable organization. 

  1. Who. Who are you planning to help? There is a resistance in the nonprofit sector to creating an ideal client profile because we want to help everyone and don’t want to leave anyone out; however, that is not working smart. To gain any ground in growing your organization you need to identify a very specific demographic and psychographic that you exist to serve. Trying to reach anyone in a general, vanilla way will get you nowhere because your message is so watered down. People feel compelled to work with you when they trust you and trust comes from showing that you really understand your audience (a result of appealing to their specific wants and needs).
  2. What. After you know WHO your organization is going to help, you figure out what problem they have that is currently not being served well. This is where competitor analysis and viability studies come in. Are there 25 other orgs solving the exact problem you have a passion to solve? Maybe you need to change your idea. What other problem does your market have that you could be a part of solving? Before you start program planning, take a few months to research whether your clients really like your idea and if they would work with you. If you’re the only one who thinks your idea is a good idea then you’ve got a problem.
  3. How. You know who you’re helping, you’ve identified a unique problem you can realistically be a part of time to plan out your first idea of how you’re going to help them overcome said challenge. Your “how” is developed through talking to your WHO about their WHAT. When you get data from them about what they’ve tried already to solve their problem. what they’d like to try instead etc you craft all those ideas into your Plan A concept and run it to test it. I teach my client to expect that they may need to run 20 (or even 200) ideas before you find one that really sticks with your clients. There is no “final” destination, it’s constantly going to be a work in progress.

Once you have who, what, and how you craft your mission statement. I will use mine for an example:

To help passionate start-up nonprofit leaders (who) develop the foundational leadership and management skills they need to enjoy successful, sustainable, and satisfying careers (what)through courses, community building, and coaching (how)

I know this is a lot of info to throw into one coaching letter but hope it helps simplify your planning process. As always, feel free to post a note below with your comments or questions, I look forward to hearing from you!

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