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Better Strategy = Increased Community Impact

Many of the nonprofits Mission Enablers works with are unable to identify their strategy.

The purpose of a strategic plan is to define how the strategy will be carried out. Without a clearly defined strategy it is easy for the ‘strategic plan’ to look like this year’s operational plan that has been extended out a couple of years.

Here is a simple definition of what a strategy is:

The strategy of a nonprofit describes how the nonprofit will take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Taking advantage of emerging opportunities is key. Strategies are forward looking. Those words keep the strategy dynamic. Those words focus the nonprofit on the opportunities rather than the competition or money.

Since nonprofits exist to serve their clients, community, and mission, the strategy needs to focus on the needs of the client that fit within the mission. The mission defines the purpose of your nonprofit.

Here is a simple example:

Mission – Help those in need obtain appropriate employment

Strategy – Help the clients develop the skills necessary to work effectively

Think about how that strategy would have guided the nonprofit over the past 25 years. It would have been one of the first nonprofits to offer computer training (use, repair, or support). If 15 years ago immigrant families started moving into the neighborhood, the nonprofit might have begun providing ESL programming. In the past 5 years, it might have started teaching its clients the most effective ways to use social networks for job searches. Today, it might be one of the few nonprofits providing its clients with a job search app for tablets and smart phones. The strategy would have also shaped how and who the nonprofit recruited for donors, volunteers, board members, advocates, and referral sources.

Next Step:

Develop a strategy that marries your mission statement with the needs of your clients and community

Let the strategy shape your program offerings beyond the core requirements for your mission

Use the strategy to guide your recruiting of board members, donors, volunteers, referral sources, staff, and advocates

Using the strategy to guide your nonprofit will help you take advantage of new opportunities. The combination of your mission and strategy will create a valuable uniqueness. Your nonprofit’s sustainability will increase because it will always be relevant.

Keeping your nonprofit relevant and unique makes it one of the first choices for clients and donors. The first choice nonprofits are also the nonprofits with growing donor generosity and sustainable funding stream.

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