Forget plans, try planning

A pile of post it notes, everyone's favorite Strategic Planning Tool"Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential." - Winston Churchill

It's time for a new Strategic Plan!

For those of you who just groaned out loud, know that I am actually a huge fan of Strategic Plans...or rather, of Strategic Planning. The process of taking a detailed look at the organization and creating a path towards a more successful future is one that every nonprofit organization should approach with excitement. While it’s possible to get trapped in the process of developing the absolutely perfect strategic plan, it’s better to forget the drive towards perfection and word-smithing. Instead, push forward into the toughest of questions and let your MVV (Mission, Vision, and Values) be your guide to determine the best path towards the future.

YNPN-TC is currently on its last six months of the previous Strategic Plan (more on that below), so we are in the process of developing our newest plan that will be launched for 2018. This new multi-year plan will be developed over the course of the next six months, and it will be published for our members to see once it’s complete.

Tell me about past Strategic Plans...

Our 2012-2015 Strategic Plan had four main priorities: Brand Awareness, Engaged Membership, Diversity, and Capacity.

Our current Strategic Plan (ending this year) also has four key priorities, with some similarities to our previous Plan:

  1. Innovative Thought Leadership and Sector-Shaping
  2. Creating Fiscal Sustainability
  3. Engaged and Mobilized Membership
  4. Diversity, Inclusion, and Access

YNPN-TC has used Strategic Plans successfully in the past to help shape our work and lead the way for our members. But we have also had some priorities where we simply didn’t achieve as much as we had hoped. It is so important to take the time to assess the progress that has been made towards achieving our goals - it lets us know where we can improve! I am excited to see our assessment of past strategic priorities help us drive forward to a great new Strategic Plan!

How does the Strategic Plan influence our work?

YNPN-TC works each year to develop actionable steps to accomplish our strategic priorities by setting tangible goals. This work takes place at the Committee level, allowing our volunteers and board members to work together to implement our Strategic Plan. During the beginning of the year, each Committee develops 3-5 Strategic Goals (nickname? STRAGGLES!) centered around our core priorities. The work done throughout the year at the Committee and Board level is then driven by the STRAGGLES, and therefore, by our Strategic Plan.

But wait! How do you measure progress?

Each Committee tracks their progress towards achieving their goals, and of course, the board is responsible for tracking progress on the Strategic Plan throughout the entire timeline of the Plan. We also gather feedback from our members through our annual membership survey and through specific events. We believe in radical transparency - it is important that our members can see the actions being taken on their behalf and can hold us accountable to our goals. Because of this, all of our meeting minutes and our Strategic Plan are listed on our website and we welcome feedback from our members at any time!

What is the upcoming process?

We’ve got a dedicated Strategic Planning Team working on laying out the next steps. Our Annual Board Retreat is coming up quickly in July. During the retreat, the board will work together to look at the past, present, and future of YNPN-TC. The ideas and topics generated at the Retreat will be part of our Committee and Board meetings this summer as we refine our priorities into comprehensive Strategic Plan priorities. At the end of the process, our finalized Strategic Plan will be approved by the board later this fall!

Lastly - it is always important to us to solicit a wide range of feedback from current and past board members, volunteers and members. It’s even more important during the Strategic Planning process! So if you have feedback, thoughts, or you just want to chat to a board member - email us at [email protected]! We truly look forward to hearing from you.

Check back with us as we continue our progress this summer!

Image Credit (via Flickr, Photo by Keila Trejo/iadMedia)

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