We already know what we want to do, why do we need to spend all this time and effort on planning?
Or, our funders tell us what and how they want us to operate, so why do we need to plan?
It’s not unusual for the strategic planning process to reveal that key stakeholders have different ideas about “what we want to do.” A strategic plan helps to build consensus and clarity on the organization’s mission, values and goals. Also, you may very well find that the planning effort stimulates new thinking and strengthens organization-wide collaboration.
Importantly, knowing what you want to do says nothing about how you’re going to do it, nor does it take into account the external factors that are likely to impact your activities. This is the job of your strategic plan. When it’s done well, the plan will serve as a rallying point for everyone involved in your organization and focus them on the end goal: accomplishing the mission.
Responding to the wishes of your funders is not a substitute for strategic planning. While it’s very likely that your budget includes restricted funds that are tied to a donor’s requirements, this shouldn’t define your overall strategy. A strategic plan charts a course of action for your whole organization. It also helps you to identify the characteristics of programs and activities that are the right fit for your vision and mission. Ultimately, your plan should increase your odds for impact and sustainability. There’s no substitute for it.