Someone has rightly said that without a plan, a goal is only a wish. In the context of your NGO also, it holds true. Despite having a mission and a vision, an organization might be going on a path to nowhere, as these are very broad statements, and do not provide a clear direction, or do not ‘steer’ the organization. To have a clear and actionable plan, it takes a lot of churning of ideas and experiences sharing among all the key stakeholders, which will direct the board to have a strategic plan for the organization.
It can be said that there cannot be good governance without a strategic plan. A good balance is required in the mission and vision with which the organization was formed and current challenges and the complex milieu where the organization is placed.
Here is how to form a strategic plan for your NGO:
- Decide who will facilitate the discussions and who will participate. Ensure all key stakeholders participate in the process, as that is the best way possible to devise a strategic plan.
- The analysis must begin with an attempt towards understanding the internal environment, which means identifying strengths and weaknesses of the organization. What are the core strengths, core competencies of your NGO? Why are donors giving to your NGO? What makes your organization thrive in a competitive and complex environment? These are some of the questions to answer to better understand the internal strengths.
- Next comes the analysis of the external environment. This involves studying what are the opportunities and threats that the external environment holds. What are the pain points and critical issues in front of the NGO?
- Prioritise: After listing these, there is a need to prioritize the things to be done. Now, as per priorities, you will need to write short term plans in sync with the larger goals of the organization.
- The next step is to plan for any additional resources requirement, including financial resources; and then to allocate these resources.
- Now after reaching the planning phase, financial planning is the most important and crucial step. Involve your finance team also for a sound financial planning.
- For strategic planning and organization-wide implementation, the systems and processes for monitoring and evaluation must be put in place. Without knowing the progress or failures, one cannot learn, and hence monitoring and evaluation is very important.
- Now you can proceed and start implementation of your strategic plan.
Some important things to keep in mind:
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- The key to a successful strategic planning is to involve everyone! Everyone means the board, the management, and all the key stakeholders. Remember that when everyone owns the process, the chances of success increase manifold.
- Reinforce the message: You will need to hold regular meetings and keep reinforcing the messages to implement the plan organization-wide successfully.
- Remember, this is certainly not an overnight process, and will take a long time to succeed the way you have planned it to. But even small steps count in a long journey. Take a small step, and the giant leap will follow!