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Strategic Planning Published Date, 2020

Situational Strategy Planning: A Re-envisioned Approach

Created by: Regina Cialone, CFRE, and Ryan Grosso

Unprecedented times. Times of uncertainty. The new normal. Now, more than ever. We’re all in this together. We have heard these catch phrases over and over again, and soon the nonprofit sector will need a deeper, more meaningful way of communicating and connecting with our prospects, donors, volunteers, and community members, especially as resources are constrained (see Orr Group’s Coronavirus Resource library).

At a time when keeping the ship afloat can seem to be the only priority, the most successful leaders are also focusing on plotting a future course.

While as individuals, we have been placed on “pause restrictions,” as nonprofit stewards we cannot pause. Our work, our mission, and our impact is just as important today as it was three months ago. Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to shore up operations, we encourage you to view this disruption as an opportunity for creativity and strategy.

Take some time to analyze the possible future paths for your operations, programs, and budget. Customarily, this would happen through a “traditional” strategic plan: a time-intensive formal process that takes resources that, right now, are more important than ever.

However, planning is more crucial now, and this is the moment to take a step back and understand how you will propel your organization forward within the current environment.

What is Strategic Planning?

Strategic Planning is the process of defining and creating a roadmap to achieve organizational goals, set the direction, or implement big ideas. Traditional strategic planning models lay out a plan to guide an organization’s actions over a three to five-year period.

Employing a Situational Strategic Planning

In the context of COVID-19, strategic planning can simply help you answer the questions “what now?” and “how can we move forward?” Situational strategic planning can provide your organization with a vision for the immediate future and give you the leeway to effectively adapt to what is most certainly going to be an increasingly changing environment.

Situational strategic planning can include:

  • A COVID-19 response and roadmap assessment. Your organization might benefit from a short assessment of your COVID-19 response and post-pandemic roadmap. This could help you determine how the pandemic has effected your organization and how to emerge successfully. A short assessment could look at programs, operations, and fundraising and provide concrete goals over the next 6-12 months.
  • A strategic framework update. Post-pandemic, your current strategic plan may need to be revamped to meet the changing needs of your constituents. Now is the right time to review your roadmap and understand what’s still possible and what needs to be adjusted.
  • A facilitated leadership discussion around the future of your nonprofit. No one knows your organization better than your leaders. Gathering this group together in a structured facilitated session can dig into current goals and objectives, reevaluate organizational and community priorities, and quickly answer the question “what’s next?”

The biggest value of situational strategic planning lies in the process itself. Planning for the future and the potential scenarios that lie ahead can provide clarity, as well as an opportunity for increased collaboration and communication with the people most important to your organization’s success. The process will not only give you the means to build upon your existing relationships, but also to develop new ones. A sideways step to plan strategically will ensure you are using this key moment to bring innovation and creativity to your nonprofit’s vision for growth and impact.

Questions about what situational strategic planning work could look like for your organization? Contact us here.

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