New Year, New Strategic Plan

The new year brings a struggle to write the correct year on documents and to keep new resolutions. At the same time, our minds also turn to new ideas and strategies for accomplishing our work. Many will embark on a strategic planning period.

Getting strategic in your work will help you to not only stay focused when competing issues vie for your attention, but it will also help you get back on track when you don’t know what to prioritize. Strategic plans give you a reason to be reflective, hopeful and to celebrate. Strategic plans give you something to talk about with funders and reasons to ask for more funding or bring new funders into the family. The act of strategic planning brings together the disparate pieces of a complex nonprofit and its tasks to ground staff and board members in a common set of goals.

One of the most common problems seen in strategic planning is vague or general goal statements that don’t develop into actionable work. We know we need to “raise more money” but we don’t get specific on what our best opportunities to do that are, or we know we want “stronger community partnerships” but we don’t know who to approach first as a few examples.

Using SMART Goals as a guide, you can insure that your strategy has the tools needed to make it extraordinary.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic and Time-Based. The Project Smart website defines SMART goals as:

S - specific, significant, stretching (more than this, specific goals help insure that everyone understands what is being worked towards)

M - measurable, meaningful, motivational (more than this, measurable goals help you celebrate your success and retool when you need to try a different way of accomplishing the goal)

A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented (more than this, agreed upon insures that staff and board members have buy in and accountability to the goals)

R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented (more than this, realistic goals insure that your goals have a chance of succeeding)

T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable (more than this, time-based gives you a way to track progress and feel a sense of completion)

If you already have a strategic plan, you can give your goals a makeover midstream and make more of an impact. Happy Strategizing!


Amy Smitter

Chief Operating Officer