Strategic Planning Section 3: How We Will Get There

Earlier in this series we discussed the first two parts of a strategic plan—who we are and who we want to become. We worked to write our vision statement and align our mission, core values and goals to the vision. We evaluated current activities and programs under new smart goals and brainstormed new timelines to stay on track.

Now it’s time to put down on paper how we will get there. Do some of your goals require your organization to grow, build, remodel, or purchase new equipment? This section takes your strategic plan from a pretty document on a shelf to a how-to guide that will prepare you to accomplish the goals you set in section one.

Resource Implications

Will you need to hire more staff to accomplish your goals? How far into the plan will you need to add them to the team? In this section we will look at the staff you have as well as the staff you need.

Organizational Structure

First, make an organizational chart of your current structure. If you utilize volunteer leadership, include those roles as well. This will give you a good idea of what you look like now, which will inform your growth. A good strategic plan is a snapshot of how the organization functions. This is the document someone could use to rebuild if leadership changes suddenly.

Speaking of, what does happen during a leadership change? What is your succession plan? Is your Executive Director hired by the board or an appointed position? How are volunteer leadership replaced if they step down? In the event of an unexpected change, you want to know what happens next. Who steps up to serve as interim? A good leadership succession plan identifies current positions and the skills required to meet both the job description and strategic plan goals. Using those qualities, the strategic planning committee evaluates current employees’ skills, which skills need to be developed, when an internal candidate may be ready, and if an executive search is necessary.

Future Staffing

Take what we’ve discovered here, and think about the new positions, goals, and activities will require. Make a list of new paid or voluntary positions, their roles, who they would report to, what year they will come on board, and approximately how much they will cost.

Facilities and Equipment

Conduct a thorough facilities and equipment evaluation using the framework below. Do the work to determine what will need to be replaced, upgraded, or remodeled during the period of your plan. Create a master list of projects, and determine the things that are reasonable to accomplish in three to five years.

Using the list, determine which year this facility or equipment issue needs to be resolved. Do the work to find a general, approximate estimate for the cost to increase the accuracy of the plan.

When this section is finished, share it with the finance committee or the leadership responsible for your budget. Since you have added financial needs for each year, they should be reflected in your next budget.

Funding the Plan

Now you have a complete list of new or tweaked programs to create, a plan for additional staff, and a list of facilities and equipment projects to complete. Organize this information by years to get a good picture of how much additional funding is need to achieve these goals. Is it balanced year to year? Do you need to think about tweaking the timeline?

With your amount of additional funding set, determine how that money will be raised. Are you funded by an outside organization that will increase funding? Are your programs revenue-based? Will you have to fundraise? Can your annual fund sustain this amount of growth? Do any of your projects require a capital campaign?

These numbers and answers to these questions will inform the fundraising plan you create in conjunction with the strategic plan.

Evaluation Process

If you have come this far in a strategic plan, you have put hours and hours of hard work into thinking about where you organization is headed. The plan is ready finished, but the work is just beginning. This is a living, breathing document meant to inform decisions along the way. Set a formal evaluation plan to make sure you and your board are regularly checking in to stay on target.

Choose an owner. You’ve heard the saying. If it is everyone’s job. It’s no one’s job. Put someone in charge of managing the strategic plan and its updated. When and how often will the plan be reviewed. Every board meeting? A separate regular committee meeting? Once a year?

What is the process? Will you update on the activities? Re-evaluate goal success? Check off facility and equipment updates?


Once you’ve written it on paper, you are 42% more likely to achieve it. You have a plan—a solid one—for the next several years. It is not meant to be a weight, tying you down, but a guide that shows you the way to the figure you agreed upon. All that is left is presenting you plan to the board and getting approval.

The planning is done, and now the real work begins. It’s time to get started on your first year’s goals.

If your organization is ready to pursue a strategic plan, allow Cabin 9 Consulting to serve your organization by facilitating conversations, asking the right questions and putting together all your hopes for your vision into something we can accomplish together. Bringing all parties together to go through the steps of a strategic plan is hard to do, especially if you are inside the organization. The best strategic plans allow the stakeholders to be stakeholders without also being facilitators. Contact us! We would be honored to work with you.

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