Basic Principles for a Strategic Plan

With a well thought out, relevant, and user friendly strategic plan in place, a nonprofit possesses an essential tool, enabling it to:  make a maximum impact on their constituencies and communities served, fulfill potential for fundraising revenue, and ensure that it stays true to its mission.  Accordingly, RLS Consulting is pleased to provide services in this essential area.

Values of a strategic plan:

  • Clarifies mission and vision.
  • Assesses the value of current programs and the extent of their impact on participants to the broader community.
  • Provides an opportunity to consider expanding its existing programs and/or launching new ones.
  • Facilitates development of consensual goals and objectives, serving to quantify the organization’s vision for the future.
  • Facilitates a frank and productive discussion of organizational strengths and weaknesses, thus serving as a mini SWOT Analysis.
  • Fosters an inclusive process in order to capture the passion and intellectual capital of organizational stakeholders, most notably members of the Board of Directors.
  • Yields a product that serves as a roadmap for best practices to both deepen impact, as well as to improve organizational performance and growth in critically essential areas, such as:
    • Governance
    • Service delivery/Programs
    • Communications
    • Marketing
    • Capital needs
    • Revenue

An inclusive process:

An effective and relevant strategic plan is not created in a vacuum. Rather, primary organizational stakeholders of staff and Board leadership need to be engaged.  An inclusive process ensures that stakeholder perspectives are integrated into the planning process, facilitating their sense ownership of the plan. This degree of ownership is imperative to a plan’s being enthusiastically endorsed and pro actively implemented, rather than being shelved in the archives in the organizational dust bin.

A user friendly product of relevance and specificity:

Equally important to an inclusive process, the final product needs to encompass the four key qualities of:

  • Being relevant to organizational mission, vision and priorities.
  • Having overarching goals that reflect compelling and current organizational priorities.
  • Being measurable with quantifiable objectives that are tightly aligned to each goal, specifying: (1) Tactics, (2) Principals responsible for fulfillment, (3) Timelines for their completion
  • Being user friendly, i.e. written in simple and direct language and not in complex, esoteric language, with far too much text clouding the essence of actions that need to be taken.

It is these principles that guide RLS Consulting in its partnership with nonprofits in the quest of crafting a strategic roadmap for organizational success and growth.


Prepared by:
Bob Serow
RLS Consulting