A strategic plan is a guiding document of an organization that determines its goals and values, aligns programming to vision, and informs decisions on a regular basis.
A comprehensive plan has several detailed parts and can seem like an overwhelming task to create. However, all those parts make up three main sections: who we are, where we are going and how we will get there. This post will cover an in-depth guide to developing the first section. For an overview of the three parts, read Strategic Plans and Why You Need One.
Before Getting Started
The first step to designing a strategic plan is to get the right people in the room. Your planning committee will be the key to creating a thoughtful and attainable plan. It’s important to get enough voices in the room to be representative, but keep it small enough that you will be able to accomplish the work in a timely manner. Choose key permanent staff people, one person from each committee that serves on your board (or a few board members with different skills and perspectives if you do not operate by committee), and a few more representatives such as a summer staff member, a dedicated volunteer, etc.
With the right people in mind, determine the timeline of this plan. Will this vision guide your organization for three years? Five years? A clear timeline from the beginning will help ensure realistic goalsetting.
The strategic plan serves as a one-stop shop for the basic, governing information about your organization. An organizational history statement allows your committee and other stakeholders to build on the foundation of where you began. How, when and by whom did this place start? What are the characteristics, traditions, bits of culture that have been passed down since the beginning? What are some milestones in your camp’s history that you are proud of? Write it down, and make it page one of the plan. This piece can be done in advance and can be approved by the committee.
A vision statement answers the question “why does this organization exist?” It is aspirational and future-oriented. In one or two sentences, it illustrates the picture of success for your organization. Some, like the examples below, are just a few words about what they want the world to look like because of their work.
Your mission statement should reflect the day-to-day work your organization does that moves the world closer to the picture your vision statement describes. It is simple, inspiring, specific and relevant long-term, and it communicates the purpose and value the organization adds to the world.
The vision and mission statements are foundational to every part of this plan moving forward. Spend time with your team workshopping these statements. Everything you do from here will align to these statements.
Core Values or Statements
Core values are the pillars of your organization. They help inform your organizational culture. What are you about? What are your identifying characteristics? What qualities do you expect of your service, your staff and your campers?Well-known values establish where to invest resources of time, money, staff, equipment.
Brainstorm a list of around ten that come easily to you and your team. Choose three to five that align to your mission and vision statements, so that these can be something you and your staff can easily name.
How are you going to incorporate these in staff training, board orientation, and marketing materials? Every piece of this plan is meant for you to sit down with your organization and put on paper who you are, so it can inform where you’re going.
A SWOT analysis identifies an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When brainstorming for future programs that will help your organization reach your goals, capitalize on the strengths and opportunities. As a committee, brainstorm solutions to weaknesses and threats. How might they be minimized? Could a weakness become a strength if you had more training or the right equipment? Could a threat become an opportunity if you marketed your camp differently, added transportation, or changed the registration process? You may not have any effect on the external threat itself but businesses (and non-profits) are successful because they are able to navigate the pitfalls of the market.
With these parts firmly in place, you have put down on paper exactly who you are. This foundation will enable you to begin confidently envisioning the future of your organization, determining what needs to be built or created to move one step closer to the aspirational vision you and your team set.