Strategic Planning & Strategy Development

The mission drives everything at nonprofit organizations, but it takes strategy – with clear goals and objectives – to achieve that mission. 

Strategic planning is the act of creating a reliable, comprehensive blueprint that prioritizes and focuses your organization’s resources over a three- to five-year timeline. A group process, strategic planning includes the development of the strategic plan itself and the annual  implementation plan that ensures its execution. Strategic planning is a time to reflect, review key data and trends, and hold organization-wide discussions on future goals. 

This means asking yourself:

  • What are the internal and external trends impacting the organization?
  • How will we achieve results that matter?
  • What measures will determine our success?
  • What capabilities and management systems need to be in place to take action?
Below, find a few of the areas where GCN’s Nonprofit Consulting Group can help.

Scanning the environment and establishing strategic clarity

Planning starts with research into your industry, your stakeholders (including staff), and your operational environment. The Nonprofit Consulting Group makes it easy to account for those factors. We begin by reviewing trends and data, conducting interviews and focus groups, and evaluating market gaps and future needs. Next, we synthesize the findings to give you a complete understanding of where your organization is headed; what defines its vision, mission, and competitive advantages; where its strategic priorities lie; and which activities will drive results.

Designing a reliable framework

Our consultants are experts in several different strategic planning methodologies, and can help organizations determine the process that works best for them. Approaches include Results-Based Planning, the Balanced Scorecard, and Conventional Strategic Planning with Mission, Vision, and Goals. Our involvement depends on your needs, from facilitating individual planning steps to leading a full 6-to-12-month planning process.

Developing goals and objectives

Defining goals is the most important step in the planning process. All plans must articulate what the organization is trying to achieve and how it will get there by

  • establishing key performance indicators
  • clarifying costs, and
  • pinpointing the resources and talents required.

With assistance from the Consulting Group’s Strategy Roadmap, you’ll be able to define SMART goals, apply them across your organization, evaluate progress, and adjust accordingly.

Managing implementation and accountability

Implementation planning is the final step in the process, and key to managing performance. Execution requires adaptability: monitoring performance against goals, making sure actions drive results, and adjusting quickly. We can work with your organization to create an annual implementation plan with the tools and templates to make sure that your plan is a living, adaptable document.

To learn more about the benefits of a comprehensive strategic plan – including how it brings clarity to day-to-day work and decision-making – contact our team at or 678-916-3082.

Insights from our team

There are many types of strategic planning approaches, and it’s important to choose a process that fits your organization: its culture, its budget, and its tolerance for process.

The most important part of the plan is the environmental scan: That's where you review trends, understand your target clients and your competition, and focus in on opportunities and threats.

The board needs to be involved in reviewing the mission and vision and in creating goal statements. This is their opportunity to set strategy and define success for the organization.

No plan should have more than three or four goals. If you have 10 or 15 goals, they aren't really goals: They're objectives. Be sure not to get "stuck in the weeds."