If you take the time to read this or other nonprofit board governance blogs, then there’s a good chance you have a strategic plan. In a lot of my previous posts, I’ve talked about keeping your organization on track with the strategic plan and how to keep your board focused on the plan. But I’ve never considered pointing out the necessity of having a plan at all.

Then along came this report from the Concord Leadership Group that just blew me away.

According to the Nonprofit Sector Leadership Report 2016, out of more than 1000 respondents in the nonprofit sector, 49% indicated they “are operating without any knowledge of or access to a strategic plan.” They either didn’t have a plan (29%), didn’t know if they had a plan (4%), or the plan wasn’t written down (19%).

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to talk about why a plan is important. 

Nonprofits with a written strategic plan tend to be bigger. You can’t meaningfully grow without knowing where you are going and how you are going to get there. Of the respondents in this study, 80% of those with budgets of >$5 million have a strategic plan.

Strategic plans help in employee evaluations. With a strategic plan in place and disseminated widely in the organization, employees know how their work fits into the larger picture. Their evaluations can then be based on how the work that they are doing is furthering the mission.

Strategic plans help communicate your vision to funders. Taking the time to articulate your vision and how you will accomplish it gives board members and staff practice in articulating that vision to potential funders. Developing it together keeps the message to all stakeholders consistent across the organization. According to the study, 77% of organizations with a strategic plan “agreed that a unifying shared vision existed,” versus 47% of those without a plan.

Strategic plans build sustainability into the daily life of the organization. By planning for the future, you are thinking about what it will take to achieve that future. As Sheila Bravo, CEO of Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement points out, that also means determining what is needed for your nonprofit to be sustainable in the future.

What would having a strategic plan make possible for your organization?

What would make it possible for you to HAVE a strategic plan, and to successfully execute it?

Exploring the answers to those questions is itself an exercise toward your future. I’m happy to have that conversation with you.

Follow me at The Detwiler Group for more about nonprofit governance, education and strategic planning, or reach me at sdetwiler@detwiler.com.