How does a noprofit strikes a balance between visionary, out-of-the-box thinking and pragmatics?

The easy answer? Be open to both.

Your strategic plan should make sense to the average person who cares about your issue. It should, therefore, be pragmatic in laying out goals, strategies and action plans. This can include all sorts of “standard” tools, including media, PR, fundraising and marketing, among many others.

At the same time, there should be plenty of room for out-of-the-box thinking. The implementation ideas you put forth in your plan are not cast in stone. The key is to be open to new ideas, test them and refine when appropriate. Not every idea will work, so it’s important to be open to and learn from failure.

A collaborative process that invites and embraces new ideas is an important element in stimulating creative thinking. Build brainstorming into your planning experience and make it clear that all ideas are welcome.

Once you’ve decided on a direction, the big ideas can be made a lot more tangible by thinking through the practical steps that need to be taken to execute them. You might also find that it’s helpful to break action steps down into phases. For example, a major ad campaign might be phased every six months as: preparation, research, fundraising, creative development, production, placement and evaluation. That’s clearly an oversimplified example, but the point is that by outlining each of these six-month phases, you can assess how realistic your goals are, put a course of action into play, and help people to see how the big idea will actually unfold.

The most important thing to remember? You can’t achieve big things unless you’re open to the possibilities.

Strategic Planning FAQ

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