Skip to main content


Effective strategies for small to mid-size nonprofits
Current Topics
Leading in Difficult Time
Engaging Your Donors
Creating Effective Plans
Importance of Donor Data
Time Management
Strategic Planning PPT
Strategic Planning PPT II
About Jan
Contact Us
Creating Effective Plans

Strategic plan, business plan, volunteer plan, marketing plan, development plan...
As in any business, non-profits need to plan for the future.  With so many things to think about, how can a small to mid-size nonprofit effectively address the future?  Why is it important to plan?  What will you do with the plans, once they are created?
These are all fair questions, especially when your days are filled with just trying to meet your mission and all of the stresses of raising money, preparing for board meetings and managing what's right in front of you.
Plans are just that - plans for how an organization would like to progress.  They are not mandates, written in stone.  They are not a process that must be gotten through.  They are not massive documents that sit on a shelf. 
Good plans are the result of agreement between board, staff and stakeholders about how an organization will act in the future.  They help ensure that board and staff members are all on the same page regarding direction and activities to be undertaken.  They include enough detail so that everyone involved with the organization can understand their roles and can measure their actions against the plan. 
Plans also demonstrate an organization's ability to think ahead, and a level of organizational sophistication.  Comprehensive plans are often requested or required by donors.  They position an organization for continuing and future success.
Plans may look different between organizations, may have different contents, or may be combined into one plan.  Through discussion and facilitation, the right combination of plans and plan components for your organization will emerge. 
A model that provides three over-arching plans, with sub-plans for certain functions, works well for many organizations.  Below are some potential plan components to consider when using this model.  Relying on outside help to bring everyone together and manage the process can help you complete plans in a timely manner and ultimately increase your day-to-day effectiveness.


Strategic Plan

·         Mission statement

·         Vision statement

·         Values

·         SWOT analysis

·         Goals, objectives and strategies

·         Positioning statement

·         Action item assignments and timeline

·         Success measures

·         Communicating the plan

Development Plan

·         Revenue plan by sector

·         Development activities plan

·         Special events

·         Prospective donors

·         Board role

·         Sponsorship opportunities

·         Recognition plan

·         Marketing/Communications plan

·         Action item assignments and timeline

·         Success measures


Business Plan

·         Organizational History

·         Service description

·         Organization Structure Management and Governance

·         Business Approach

·         Business Strategies

·         Market demand

·         Competencies and competitive advantage

·         Service direction

·         Historic financial performance analysis

·         Forecast financials and budget needs

·         Board and staff qualifications

·         Volunteer plan