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Five reasons you need a strategic plan that works – and how to use it to get results

Putting together a strategic plan is simple enough.  Why pay for a professional facilitator who will charge us thousands when we can do it ourselves for next to nothing?  So why do many plans end up not being followed?

Here’s the thinking that defines the value a board or commitee puts on their organisation.  Do you really understand your organisation as it should be?  Will your plan take you to the next level or is it just a reflection of what you think you ought to be doing?  Or is it a vindication of what you are already doing? Who or what is challenging you, stretching your limits and providing a strong focus for the next few years?

Here are five reasons why you need a strategic plan that works:

  1. Your members and stakeholders rely on your leadership to position the organisation and to ensure ongoing profitability.  Even a not-for-profit must remain viable and sustainable, just like a business.   You need a Vision of where you want to be.  What is the ideal status of your organisation and community or clients you serve?  How does it look and feel? If you don’t have an organisational Vision, then your organisation is going nowhere.
  • Your organisation needs direction.  If you don’t set direction, how will your staff and/or volunteers know what their goals are and be able to focus their activities accordingly?  The direction must be legitimate, based on consideration of well-researched internal and external circumstances.  A well- presented and objective, situation analysis, provides board/committee (and other stakeholders) with an opportunity to think beyond the four walls of everyday function.  In this space, new strategies are developed; strategies that will differentiate and generate a new collective passion for the future.
  • It’s time to take stock of what you are doing.  Are you doing what you’ve already done?  Are you stuck with programs or activities, products or services, that seem out of line with today’s needs?  Or have you been chasing every idea and now have a portfolio of activities, products and services that stray from your core purpose?  A strategic plan will provide a strong focus that you can use to strengthen the programs and activities that provide the outcomes associated with your organisation’s Vision. Clarity of activities helps not just the organisation, but also clients and community to understand exactly who you are and what you do.  
  • A good plan can be used ‘strategically’.  It can be used to support policy submissions and grant applications.  Your submissions and applications will demonstrate your credibility and purpose.  
  • Your strategic plan is a living document.  What is your board or committee doing if it is not measuring the performance of your organisation?  Is your plan getting a periodic review?  Is it gathering dust or dropping to bits from constant use?

We’ve now completed the first stage of our 3 year Strategic Plan and are ready to go through the recommended ‘monitoring and reviewing’ process. It’s great to have this document to work with; its value becomes even clearer now that we look back to where we started from.

Thanks again, Trish, Richmond Community Garden Group
Text Box: We've now completed the first stage of our 3 year Strategic Plan and are ready to go through the recommended 'monitoring and reviewing' process. It's great to have this document to work with; its value becomes even clearer now that we look back to where we started from.
Thanks again, Trish, Richmond Community Garden Group


Without a good plan it is difficult to prove strong leadership, direction, focus on strategic activities and outcomes and credibility.  Without a good plan that you can follow your board or committee won’t be effective.

So how do you use it for success?

Firstly, you use it.  Your plan will have important data you can use constructively and, not just to inform your strategies but also as a benchmark for change.  Your plan may need to be modified along the way, but no plan has a rigid trajectory towards its destination.  You may need to tweak your actions to get the outcomes you are aiming for.

The strategic plan is your blueprint.  Other plans support your blueprint.  These include:

  • Governance plan – including how you will access leadership and technical skills required to support the success of your strategic plan
  • Budget projections – based on the strategic directions and activities – to assist with measuring your progress and financial viability
  • human resources plan framework – an important one to determine skills needed and how these can be developed or accessed from existing resources as well as professional development and outsourced skills
  • Marketing plan – vital to position your organisation and its expertise, to research needs and develop and promote product and service solutions with an overall focus on building relationships
  • Annual business plan – the journey may take some time, so it is important to break it down into manageable and achievable priorities which inform the operational plan
  • Operational plan – the manager’s plan to ensure that the operational side of the business aligns to the business plan.

Thank you so much for your recent support developing our strategic plan. Your professionalism and knowledge of governance and strategic planning made it possible to develop a quality user friendly and workable document. I especially found mentoring regarding business planning and governance invaluable.

Fiona Fenton , Hume Murray Food Bowl

You’ve got three options.  

The first is not to have a strategic plan.  There are organisations that survive without a plan.  They exist from one meeting or activity to the next.  They may grow in numbers but not in aspirations.  

The second is to have a strategic plan, of sorts.  It may have been put together from within the organisation, using existing information and a token perception of community or client needs.  The plan may also be influenced by a dominant contributor, usually either the manager or a committee member.  Are you really doing the best for your organisation?  

The third option is to develop a strategic plan based on solid research that is brought to life and sustained and supported by a wealth of complementary plans that strengthen the building blocks to a strong and robust organisation.  

Which option would you prefer?

We prefer to set you up to succeed.  That’s why we spend time on analysing trends, your environment, policy impacts and existing capability before we get you to a planning workshop.  We arm you with the information you need to make decisions based on the real world and not formed in a vacuum.  With a clear Vision statement you can define your mission and determine your priority directions and achievable goals.  

We assist you to determine your resource needs and high level time lines, so that you can align your people, equipment and systems to bring your plan to life and keep it energised.  We don’t stop there.  By this stage we know your organisation well enough to assist with setting up and implementing your other plans, providing a professional insight alongside supporting you through change.

If your organisation is ready for a new exciting Vision and plan to serve you for the next few years, and you are committed to putting in the effort to succeed, then we’re ready to work with you.  Contact us now on 03 9005 5889.

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