As food prices continue rising, many of us are tallying up grocery bills with dread. Saving money on groceries is becoming a must-do activity.
One of the most common tips to cut costs is meal planning. By planning out meals for the week, you reduce food waste and out-of-budget impulse purchases. According to CNN:
“When you take the time to prepare multiple meals for the week, you are giving yourself a safety net to fall back on when you’re in a hurry and hunger strikes.”
To us, meal planning sounds an awful lot like nonprofit strategic planning. They both help you to:
- Keep your goals front and center. Meal planning ensures that, each week or month, you know your goals (saving money on grocery bills) and how you’re going to accomplish them (making delicious pre-planned meals instead of buying pricier food on a whim). Similarly, a strategic plan outlines your nonprofit’s goals, the strategies you’ll use to achieve those goals, and how you plan to implement those strategies over a defined period of time (usually 3-5 years). All of which is critical for a sustainable organization and effective leadership.
- Make better decisions. With a meal plan you’re not just buying groceries on the fly, grabbing whatever looks good after work. Instead, you hit the grocery store with a concrete plan to achieve your goal of eating well on a budget. That’s what a strategic plan offers nonprofit leaders. Having a strategic plan helps your organization avoid the dreaded “mission creep,” which is what happens when leaders lose focus and allow their organization to move away from its intended purpose (aka grabbing that extra bag of chips at the grocery store check-out), and instead guides you toward long-term sustainability.
- Figure out how to get back on track. A meal plan isn’t static. At the end of each week, you have the chance to figure out which recipes were fast, easy, and delicious, and which ones weren’t a hit. Then, in the next week’s menu, you can replace the meals that didn’t work with new ones. A strategic plan gives your nonprofit the same opportunity. By being clear up front about goals and objectives, you can evaluate programs and strategies to figure out which ones are helping achieve those goals and which are not. That’s why a strategic plan shouldn’t be just a one-time, static document, but a tool to help leaders engage in ongoing strategic thinking.
If your goal as a nonprofit leader is to create long-term sustainability while also achieving your organization’s goals, then it’s time to get a strategic plan.