Definition: Strategic Plan 1
The strategic plan is a document that outlines the desired future for the organization and provides a roadmap that defines how the organization will achieve it. The roadmap contains broad directions as well as more specific ways they will be achieved. The plan usually addresses critical issues, opportunities and threats facing the organization and allocates appropriate resources to pursue the strategic directions.
What is strategic planning and why is it important? Strategic planning, the process by which the board determines how the organization will accomplish its mission, is one of the primary duties of nonprofit and charitable boards of directors. 2 Strategic planning is an opportunity to explore an organization’s potential, test ideas, question outdated practices, and develop new and innovative strategies that challenge the status quo in pursuit of greater social impact. It allows the board to set priorities for action that shape decision making throughout the organization. 3
The benefits of strategic planning include: 3
- Identifying important issues (often by conducting a SWOT analysis)
- Identifying potential resources
- Developing a framework for action
- Creating a clear plan that can be used in communications and marketing as well as in funding proposals
- Developing a tool for managing change
- Increasing creative thinking
- Allowing the board to discover shared values
- Building trust and respect among board members
- Creating a positive organizational culture
From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section A: Board Governance," Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.
- “Standards Program Definitions,” Imagine Canada, May 2011
- “Primer for Directors of Not-for-Profit Corporations: Rights, Duties, and Practices,” Industry Canada, 2002
- “Strategic Planning Workshop Presentation,” Cathy Brothers for Capacity Waterloo Region, Sept. 30th 2011.