Your strategic plan will only be as effective as who you invite to participate in the process. In fact, sometimes, it is even a good idea to set up more than one planning session in order to avoid diluting the ideas by having too many interest groups involved in the same session. So plan well, which groups its okay to clump together and which ones to have a separate session for.
In my experience, the best plan for strategic consultations works in this way:
- Make the target population consultation open to everyone – The best way to ensure you hear a variety of perspectives is to invite your clientele and any other stakeholders from the community who might have an interest in participating. This keeps the process open and transparent and gives the entire community an opportunity to provide feedback.
- Keep Board members separate – By this I mean, invite your board to attend the public sessions with your clientele, but encourage them to hold back their comments and input until they have their separate consultation, in order not to dilute the voices of the clientele.
- Staff member consultations should be done separately – Your staff have a unique perspective in that they know the organization from the inside, and so to get the most benefit from their input, it is best to have that consultation separately because they will offer ideas on how to improve the processes within the organization.
- Group funders and partner organizations together – In one of the strategic plans we did, we combined our funders and partners and the results were fantastic. Funders are more aware of your organizations challenges than you often think they are. Our funders offered vital ideas on what issues our organization should be addressing in upcoming years. The good part about including your partner organizations is that they can attest to the challenges your organization is facing, and it is good both for the funders to hear partner organizations’ perspectives, it is equally as valuable for partner organizations to hear funders’ perspectives.
Question of the Day: Who else do you feel a non-profit organization should include in their strategic planning process?
For more resources, see our Library topic Nonprofit Capacity Building.