How can a nonprofit make sure their plan is realistic and doable?

The first part of the answer may seem obvious, but give it serious consideration: Ask the people who are actually charged with executing the plan whether or not it’s realistic. For example, plenty of people have been told to “create a viral video” without being given any direction as to its purpose, content or dissemination. Unless that staff person moonlights as a creative director at a leading ad agency, such a directive will fail.

While that is, we hope, an extreme example, your plan will likely include many expectations of the people who are working to advance your mission. Our advice? Engage them in the process and openly invite their feedback when action plans and timelines are established.

Another way to determine the feasibility of your strategic plan is to look at other organizations with similar missions and size that have achieved what you want to achieve. For media awareness, consider using Google Alerts to track others in your field and geographic area. In terms of fundraising, the Foundation Directory Online ( is a great resource to see how much other organizations have received, and from whom.

While crafting the strategies, be sure to build a budget for all of the costs and resources needed for each strategy. Many of the costs may be related to staff time, and realistic assessments of staff availability need to be made.

One caveat: It’s not uncommon to hear a nonprofit of any size announce that it wants to be, for example, the next Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Komen is a case study to be sure, and a lofty goal for any nonprofit. But remember that reality is the key to executing your plan. Looking at organizations with far more resources than you have is only helpful in thinking about what you may want (or not want) in the future. The important thing is to understand who you are, and to establish standards based on that reality.

Strategic Planning FAQ

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