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Sections of a Strategic Plan

These are the sections commonly included in a strategic plan:
 

Table of Contents
 

Introduction by the President of the Board

A cover letter from the president of the organization's board of directors introduces the plan to readers. The letter gives a "stamp of approval" to the plan and demonstrates that the organization has achieved a critical level of internal agreement. (This introduction is often combined with the Executive Summary below.)

Executive Summary

In one to two pages, this section should summarize the strategic plan; it should reference the mission and vision; highlight the long-range goals (what the organization is seeking to accomplish); and perhaps note the process for developing the plan, as well as thank participants involved in the process. From this summary, readers should understand what is most important about the organization.

Mission and Vision Statements

These statements can stand alone without any introductory text, because essentially they introduce and define themselves.

Organization Profile and History

In one or two pages, the reader should learn the story of the organization (key events, triumphs, and changes over time) so that he or she can understand its historical context (just as the planning committee needed to at the beginning of the planning process).

Critical Issues and Strategies

Sometimes organizations omit this section, choosing instead to "cut to the chase" and simply present goals and objectives. However, the advantage of including this section is that it makes explicit the strategic thinking behind the plan. Board and staff leaders may refer to this document to check their assumptions, and external readers will better understand the organization's point of view. The section may be presented as a brief outline of ideas or as a narrative that covers several pages.

Program Goals and Objectives

The program goals and objectives are the heart of the strategic plan. Mission and vision answer the big questions about why the organization exists and how it seeks to benefit society, but the goals and objectives are the plan of action—what the organization intends to do over the next few years. As such, this section should serve as a useful guide for operational planning and a reference for evaluation.

For clarity of presentation, it makes sense to group the goals and objectives by program unit if the organization has only a few programs. If some programs are organized into larger program groups (e.g., Case Management Program in the Direct Services Program Group), the goals and objectives will be delineated at both the group level and the individual program level.

Management Goals and Objectives

In this section, the management functions are separated from the program functions to emphasize the distinction between service goals and organization development goals. This gives the reader a clearer understanding both of the difference and the relationship between the two sets of objectives, and enhances the "guiding" function of the plan.

Appendices

The reason to include any appendices is to provide needed documentation for interested readers. Perhaps no appendices are truly necessary (many organizations opt for brevity). They should be included only if they will truly enhance readers' understanding of the plan, not just burden them with more data or complicating factors.

Content for this article was provided by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.

 

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