most “strategic plans” aren’t good for much
They have nice pictures and graphics. They are full of vision- and value-statements and plenty of uplifting language. But there’s an absence of clear, concrete direction. And since it is unusual for someone to be tasked with seeing specific pieces get executed, the documents get parked until the next annual update, when maybe the logo and mission statement get revised.
There’s a better way to plan. Just like effective businesses anywhere, the most effective non-profits set goals that are SMART:
Specific- hard description of goal, how much it will cost
Measurable- numeric and narrative indicators of success
Attainable- is it realistic?
Relevant- is this on mission?
Timed- how long it will take; monthly progress reports, etc.
SMART goals are one element of a concise, comprehensive, compelling business plan that all organizations should use to both guide their internal operations as well as use to solicit input and advice from current and prospective partners and investors.
Your plan should be as short as possible, and so vital, so embedded in daily life, that copies will end up dog-eared and coffee-stained 2 months after distribution. Then, update it as your nimble, learning organization grows and refines its vision. Start now. Finish a draft in 60 days. And start the process of community alignment with the plan at the center. Don’t wait 5 years to look at it again.