Episode 9 | Strategic Planning Step Five: Tighten Your Focus


Today we are diving into step 5 of the strategic planning process, Tighten Your Focus.  This is where you start to drill down deeper and get your arms wrapped around your strategic objectives and initiatives.  There are four key areas that move from internal to external – capacity, internal process, financial stewardship, client and stakeholder satisfaction – and these four areas will show up on your 1-pager (strategic plan).


  • If you’re a 2-3-person organization, you simply don’t have a lot of capacity to engage in many initiatives compared to an organization with 15-20.  What training do you already have and what do you need to gain to give you more mental capacity to engage in some of these activities? 

Internal Process:

  • This area focuses on what you already have in place, how efficient you are as an organization, and how you do work.  Are there opportunities to improve upon these processes?

Financial Stewardship:

  • AKA your financial and fundraising performance.  How are you raising money?  Are you diversifying your money?  How are you managing your money? 

Client and stakeholder satisfaction:

  • Who are the people who are ultimately benefitting from the great work you’re doing?  If you’re doing the first three really well, then it’s going to be much easier to satisfy the people who are benefitting from your work.

This is the messy stuff that scares a lot of people and why a lot of people don’t like strategic planning.  This step is the “make your brain hurt” type of work.  Embrace it.  It’s going to feel messy and that’s ok.  The first thing you need to do is frame this step into two overarching categories; what you need to do vs. how you need to do it.  Once you’ve separated the strategies from the tactics, you will then determine where they each fall within the four key areas.  For example, let’s say you’ve decided to enhance training internally among staff.  That objective would fall under the capacity bucket.  Or, maybe want to start an endowment.  This would fall into the financial stewardship area.  Essentially, you are identifying what is important to your organization and then splitting each objective into a specific category so you can immediately start to put together your one-page strategic plan.  Remember, you are planning for the future, so take the time you need to make sure you have covered each area to the fullest. 

The point of this step is to come out with a balanced scorecard.  At the end of the day, you want 1-4 strategic objectives in each category.  If you find that you have an area that is unbalanced, you need to start making some tough decisions.  Go back to your core values and your vision and take capacity into consideration.  This will help you identify the priorities of the organization and determine what objectives you can realistically achieve based on the number of staff you have.  At the end of the day, you want to make sure you have the right objectives within the right area of focus and at a high level, you understand which strategic initiatives will support those objectives.

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.

Download the Strategic Plan Toolkit

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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