Adaptability, Strategic Planning, and Italian Wine: More in Common Than Expected

by | Oct 28, 2022 | Strategic Planning

If you’re like us, just mentioning Italy probably brings to mind lush images of rolling hillsides, crystal blue waters, and delicious meals of fresh pasta and wood-fired pizza. But a recent Bloomberg article about the adaptability of Italian winemakers in the face of climate change has us thinking about the country in a whole new way.

What happens when crisis response is built into your day-to-day operations?

And how can a strategic plan help your nonprofit harness the same power of adaptability?


Adaptability as Strategy

Italian winemakers have long dealt with a slew of ever-shifting challenges. Whether it’s stifling heat, pest infestations, or too much or too little rain, adaptability is a requirement for success. Climate change is increasing the need for adaptability.

According winemaker Franceso Ricasoli:

For many years now we’ve been discussing what we can do in reaction to the lack of rain or rising temperatures and many other issues that maybe most normal people don’t even know about.

This sounds a lot like strategic planning to us at Funding for Good.

Like vineyards, your nonprofit will inevitably face changing circumstances that require strategic thinking. Donors that shift priorities. Key staff members that leave. Boards of Directors that struggle with dysfunction.

Having a strategic plan sets you up to adapt to challenges as they arise.

While your strategic plan is a roadmap for your goals and how you aim to accomplish them, it’s also a living document. It can empower you and your leadership team to shift and adapt, all while keeping your vision and mission front and center.


Staying Grounded in a Sense of Purpose

Many Italian vineyards have been operating for hundreds of years, which gives winemakers a long history of adapting and changing to climate, markets, and other outside factors. Italian winemakers’ long history also grounds them in a sense of purpose. Many vineyards have been in families for generations. They have become a “well settled” part of the landscape, and shaped culture and community along the way.

While this depth of experience is a huge asset, according to Bloomberg:

A millennium in business provides perspective, but it does not ensure success.

For nonprofits, established histories and personalities can sometimes hamper organizations, as in the case of founder’s syndrome. But when integrated into a strategic planning process, your nonprofit vision and mission can become the key to success.

Your strategic plan helps you—and all of your stakeholders, including board, staff, donors, and community members—understand where your organization started, where it is today, and where it wants to go. It maps potential challenges and opportunities along the way, and helps your board and staff prepare as a team for how to deal with setbacks.

Like a winemaker’s set of creative adaptations, honed over generations, a strategic plan can keep your organization focused on vision and mission, while creating room for strategy and adaptation.

As Italian winemakers show, combining a rich history with a spirit adaptation makes great wine—and strong nonprofits!


More on Strategic Planning

How Vision and Mission Drive Strategic Planning

The Dysfunctional Board: What Nonprofit Boards Need to Know to Improve

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