business matters
Rob Rentz is director of software development at Alliance for Nonprofit Resources.

Plan to succeed: Alliance for NonProfit Resource helps groups set goals

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” said founding father Benjamin Franklin. Great advice, but how do you go about implementing it for your nonprofit organization?

For one thing, you have a strategic plan. That's what Roxann Tyger says. She's the director of organizational development for Alliance for NonProfit Resources, a company that can help see your nonprofit succeed, whether you are at the beginning of your journey with just an idea or you're a well-seasoned organization that needs only a bit of tweaking. Or perhaps you feel your organization has lost its way. Tyger knows how to put you and keep you on the right track. It's all in a day's work for Tyger, and it all starts with a strategic plan.

“Strategic planning lays out the roadmap for the organization over the next two to four years and beyond,” Tyger said. “The perils of operating without a strategic plan are many. An organization can become myopic and reactionary, looking only at what the needs are in front of them. Organizations without a plan may struggle to define their objectives and allocate resources effectively, or have difficulty communicating their goals to their staff and the public. If an organization doesn't know the goals and objectives they are aiming for, how do they know when they have accomplished them?”

Developing a strategic plan is not as overwhelming as it sounds. Tyger has a list of questions she asks an organization to consider when she works with them.

Where do we want to have impact?

Where does the organization want to be in the next five or 10 years?

How will the organization evolve to meet future challenges?

What do we need to put in place to meet these challenges?

Is everyone ready to undertake the process, and if not, how can the organization help prepare them?

Tyger has different models to help an organization develop its plan, “from a balanced scorecard, issue-based, and goal-based to alignment and organic models,” she said, but most have similar steps. It happens like this:

“The first step for a nonprofit to get started is to obtain approval from, and engagement with, the board of directors.

“An organization must determine what planning model to use and then conduct an analysis and assessment. This may include reviewing an organization's history and programs, an internal assessment of capacity, an assessment of the needs of the community, region, state, or the country, and trends in the sector.

“An organization may also want to obtain input from those served by the organization, stakeholders, and staff through things like focus groups and surveys.

“Next the organization and board of directors review all of the data and input to determine the objectives and initiatives it will undertake, set measurable goals, and develop a draft plan. Once the board of directors approves the draft plan, it can take effect,” Tyger said.

After your organization develops the plan, you're all set, right? “Not even close,” Tyger said. “This is when the implementation phase starts, putting all of the action steps into play that will lead an organization to its goals. But strategic plans can easily end up on a shelf. Leadership and staff are busy working, delivering services, and overseeing operations. Without a system in place to keep the plan on track, then it is just a document.”

Tyger said strategic plans should be revised and updated periodically to reflect the times and circumstances you face.

“Maybe when you created your plan two years ago, your goal in 2020 was to purchase a new facility to increase office space. Then 2020 moves along and now your main issue is finding a way to help staff work remotely and a new facility is no longer needed. That's a time to revise your strategic plan,” Tyger said.

Last, ANR is a “more affordable option,” Tyger said, for non-profits that might want to move forward but aren't exactly sure what the next step might be.

“ANR offers strategic planning services and can walk with an organization and guide them through the entire process. And once the plan is created, ANR can work with the organization on implementation, developing time frames, gathering information for reporting, and keeping the plan on track. ANR will not only help an organization create a strategic plan, but can also ensure the plan is operational and alive, and not just collecting dust on a shelf,” Tyger said.