How to create a strategic plan that inspires hope

By Danielle Rocheleau

As you may know, Laridae likes to plan. In fact, you could say it’s our business to partner with organizations like yours, to engage in planning.

Over the last 6-8 months, we’ve noticed a common theme among strategic planning journeys with our clients: they’re ready to move beyond the heaviness of the past three years and get back to envisioning a future of hope and positivity. They’re eager to return to the good work they do. They want to focus on the meaningful impact they know they have in their communities.

Planning strategically and designing a hopeful future for non-profit organizations requires a proactive and resilient approach.

In today’s post, we share some key considerations to help you and your team navigate the strain and pressures on your organization and the community you serve, and find a positive path forward. While our focus here is centred around strategic planning, these tips and tricks are relevant to any stage of organizational planning.

Embrace the journey

Having the right mindset is key. Not everyone loves to plan; many non-profit leaders and their teams are exhausted, overworked, stretched thin. Planning for the future in uncertain times might feel like just another thing on your to-do list.

But, consider that the benefits of reconnecting with your organization’s purpose. Despite the many challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic, we have the power to navigate through them and the opportunity to emerge stronger than ever.

Planning allows you to:

  • Re-evaluate your mission and consider how it can be reimagined to tackle the new challenges and emerging needs post-pandemic.
  • Reframe how you view planning and embark on an exciting journey to shape a brighter future for your organization.
  • Redefine your goals, explore fresh programmatic approaches, and prioritize areas of focus that are even more crucial today and for your organization’s future.

Engage stakeholders

Your team, donors, volunteers, community partners and those you serve play a vital role in shaping your organization’s future. Gather everyone’s input and foster open dialogue. By collaborating and seeking out diverse perspectives, you can create a roadmap that truly reflects the aspirations and needs of your entire community.

  • Take an inclusive and participatory approach to your engagement, making sure that you involve stakeholders from various backgrounds and demographics in the planning process.
  • Create opportunities for meaningful participation, such as focus groups, sharing circles, surveys, workshops, and town hall meetings.
  • Ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and valued, empowering participants to contribute to the organization’s future direction.

By actively engaging stakeholders, you demonstrate that their input is essential to shaping a hopeful and inclusive future. You can gain a deeper understanding of the evolving needs of the community and then work to co-create solutions.

Envision greatness

Imagine a future filled with possibilities. Define an inspiring vision that encapsulates your mission and captures the hearts and minds of your stakeholders. We can be aspirational with our goals while being mindful of team and organizational capacity and aware of the evolving landscape we work in. It’s about being clear and focussed on the right objectives at the right time. Strive for alignment across teams and put measurement practices in place so that everyone can see progress toward organizational goals.

We know that the sector is facing resource constraints and external pressures. By prioritizing initiatives and focusing on the most impactful areas, we can make a meaningful difference. Identify core programs and activities and ensure they align with your mission and have the potential to create lasting change.

Be flexible

The post-pandemic landscape is ever-changing, and we’re prepared to adapt with grace. Be sure to think through strategy that will be flexible and responsive to various scenarios. Explore contingency plans and risk management strategies, empowering your organization to overcome challenges while remaining true to your vision.

We’ve learned so much over the past few years about what we are capable of and how adaptable we can be. Planning is the time to apply what we’ve learned. With a shared sense of purpose, we can set ambitious yet achievable goals that propel us forward.

Collaborate to create collective success

Relationships are crucial to the planning process. By joining forces with other organizations, businesses, and community stakeholders, you can unlock a world of collective strengths, resources, and expertise. Together, we can amplify our impact, seize new funding opportunities, and tackle complex challenges head-on.

Collaboration sparks innovation. It ignites the spirit of knowledge sharing and prevents duplication of efforts. It’s a catalyst for building credibility, fostering trust among stakeholders, and garnering increased support for our mission. Through collaborative partnerships, organizations can achieve remarkable outcomes, create lasting change, and cater to the diverse needs of the communities they serve.

Empower your team

Your team is the heart and soul of the organization. Make their wellbeing a top priority.

The labour market has shifted in recent years; be open to changing your work structures. Explore what you’ve implemented in recent years, and what policies you can keep.

Investing in your team’s growth and development is paramount. By providing support, resources, training and professional development opportunities, you equip your staff and volunteers with the skills and knowledge to navigate the challenges ahead, boost morale, and foster resilience.

Embracing technology and efficient systems to streamline operations and increase effectiveness will further support cohesion and let your team know they matter. Encouraging work-life balance, nurturing a positive organizational culture, and acknowledging team efforts are essential steps toward cultivating a hopeful and motivated workforce, and retaining a team that will make your strategy a reality.

Reimagine financial stability

Financial resources are always a consideration. Planning can be a time of reinvention that becomes a catalyst for your organization’s long-term sustainability.

Explore what your organization is open to doing: trying something new or building on past successes. Will fundraising efforts include generating diverse revenue sources, enabling us to thrive? Can we cultivate relationships with our existing supporters while exploring innovative approaches, such as social enterprises or fee-for-service models, to generate income? Are we as an organization open to doing things differently and investing the time, energy, and resources into what we need to get there?

Measure and celebrate successes

Monitoring and evaluating progress is essential. Establish clear indicators, collect data, and analyze outcomes. This information will guide your decisions, allowing you to adapt the strategies as needed.

Transparency is integral to clear communication. It will help to reinforce trust, inspire alignment with your plan, and energize the team toward implementation of your plan. Be sure to openly share changes and progress toward your goals with key stakeholders.

Become a storyteller by sharing inspiring organizational accounts of resilience, adaptability, and impact regularly to ignite hope. Be sure to celebrate achievements, share the positive changes you continue to make and amplify the transformative power of your work – both internally and externally.

Next steps

Whether exploring one or all of the above key considerations we’ve shared in this post, with enthusiasm and dedication, strategically planning for a future brimming with hope, your organization can overcome challenges, embrace opportunities, and create lasting change.

If you’re looking for help on your next planning process, feel free to get in touch and we can set up an initial call where you can learn more about us and see if we’re a good match for your organization.