Episode 5 | Strategic Planning Step Two: Take a Look at Your World


In strategic planning terminology, take a look at your world means to do an environmental scan.  What’s happening out there has an impact on your organization.  This is not to come up with a list of excuses of why you can’t get something done, but rather to help you make better decisions for the future of your organization.

You’ve gotten your foundation set, so taking a look at the world around you is going to include articles, research and data trends, conversations you’ve had with your key stakeholders, and other ways you can get information.  What you need to be mindful of when you’re doing your environmental scan are socio-demographics; what is happening in society may affect the work your organization is doing in and for the community. 

Another area to focus on is what’s happening with your competition.  Competition doesn’t have to be a negative term, rather, it’s an honest look at what similar organizations are doing and what’s working for them.  What’s going to be new or different in how your organization provides services and programs?   Sometimes you determine that you should collaborate in order to serve more people in your community. 

Next, it’s important to look at the economy and the effect it may have on your organization in the next few years.  For example, if there is a downturn predicted, how will your organization weather that storm?  Or better yet, how will it thrive?  Knowing what’s happening economically is going to help you have that conversation when you get into the conference room to discuss strategy. 

What’s happening politically?  Are there new regulations that will impact your organization? Keeping your finger on this pulse is especially critical if you are in the advocacy realm and trying to get laws changed.  It’s crucial to understand that there is a difference between observing what’s happening and getting sucked down the rabbit hole.  The way you handle this is to surround yourself with good people who will help you keep your focus. 

Understanding what’s going on with technology is absolutely vital.  Technology is moving and changing so quickly that you can easily become paralyzed.  Understanding the overall strategy – what you are doing and how are you doing it – will give you insights when determining what technology to deploy.  Then you can find ways to leverage technology to help your organization become more efficient.  Keep in mind that technology doesn’t just mean social media and marketing.  It also includes how you are communicating internally with your team, keeping connected to one another, and project management systems.  Don’t let technology work you, you need to work technology.

Finally, you need to take a look at your own clients and the people you’re looking to serve.  What change in demands might put pressure on your organization to perform at a higher level?  Your constituents may come to you asking for more support in a particular area.  You have to listen to your audience so you can better serve their needs.

We know being a nonprofit executive is a lonely job and we want you to know that you are not alone as you work toward your mission.  If you like the content of the podcast, as well as the work we do, we invite you to join the Nonprofit Executive Club.  The Executive Club is a monthly training program that gives you the ability to increase your influence through strategic planning and fundraising support.  For more information and to join the Club, go to nonprofitexecutiveclub.com.

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For more information about Mary Valloni, visit maryvalloni.com and to download our free Fundraising Freedom Roadmap, go to maryvalloni.com/roadmap. Get a copy of Mary’s book, Fundraising Freedom.

Interested in learning more about Joel Kessel?  Visit kesselstrategies.com to find out how Joel helps growth-minded leaders gain clarity.

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