By Amy Clinton

What are you using as your road map?

Planning is one of the most important elements of successful fundraising.  A clear and well-communicated plan also happens to be something many organizations do not have, do not know how to create and do not make a priority. Are you working in one of those organizations?

Wouldn’t you love to have a truly dynamic plan that will help you and your project, department, or organization stay on track and achieve its goals?

Plans are meant to be used and referred to, frequently. They should serve as flexible, but intentional road maps to help you stay on track in your efforts to achieve your mission. Unfortunately, many plans do little more than sit idle on a
shelf collecting dust, which is unfortunately what often happens despite the extensive amounts of time, effort, and resources spent in creating them.

I’ve sat through planning sessions in the past that were some of the most painful business meetings ever – essentially, senior managers sitting around a table reviewing an entire plan section by section, and then deciding whether each goal is still a goal (it was, of course). But there was little or no discussion about the progress made toward achieving each goal, what was working or not working when we expected to be successful, or even whose job it was to make sure we got there in the end. As far as I can remember, I never even saw a completed plan, and no one ever mentioned it again until it was time for yet another mind-numbingly boring and completely useless review process a year or so later.

Have you sat through similar meetings?

When you create a plan and then shove it in the broom closet, it’s like going on a trip without a map. You can go on the trip, but you really don’t have the right to be upset when you don’t get where you want to go.

Here are some of the reasons planning processes are often unsuccessful in helping organizations achieve their goals:

  • A non-representative planning group
  • Lack of buy-in
  • No assignments/accountability
  • Too many goals
  • No alignment with budget
  • No measurement
  • No follow-up

But not all strategic planning processes are destined to fail. Luckily, there are tried and true methods that can help ensure that your plans don’t end up on a shelf!

A facilitated and participatory process that pays close attention to each of the following steps can help you create a dynamic, responsive, realistic, and inclusive road map to your goals. Whether you are working on a fundraising plan, a program or project plan, or an organizational strategic plan, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Pre-Planning (planning to plan)
  2. Defining the Purpose & Focus of the Event/Plan
  3. Getting the Right People at the Table
  4. Closely Examining the Internal & External Environment
  5. Creating a Practical & Shared Vision
  6. Honest Identification and Analysis of Barriers
  7. Creating Strategies to Overcome Barriers
  8. Developing Substantial Actions with Measures and Implementation Plans

The greatest benefit of following these steps is the value of sitting in conversation together over a shared vision of the future. In pairs or small groups and in the larger group, a well-facilitated discussion can unlock and uncover new ideas, generate energy and intention around a common understanding, and clear out conflict when we are committed to a shared vision. This doesn’t happen by reading documents around a table or those circulated over email. This happens when we commit to the conversation together.

Don’t let your future strategic plans languish! We will be bringing you more content on strategy and intentional planning processes in the coming months. To learn more about the process now and start successful planning within your organization, join us for a free webinar on March 28th  on Strategy Sessions.