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6 Questions to Ask and Answer during the Strategic Planning Process

In the spirit of strategic planners coming up with other ways to communicate, complicate, obfuscate, correlate, demonstrate, expropriate, cultivate, orientate, chocolate (wait, how did that one get in there?), incorporate, corroborate, contemplate, and investigate ways to explain and understand the process of strategic planning.

Asking and answering these questions is a simple way to view the strategic planning process:

  1. Why? Establish the reasons why you are considering strategic planning. Determine 2-3 outcomes you want as a result of the strategic planning process.
  2. When? Determine how long of a process and how many sessions you will need for your objectives. Working with a strategic planning consultant and facilitator will provide great direction in this decision. Some new or young nonprofits, or those with no previous planning experience, may only need a 4-hour session. Others may need two 4-hour sessions while still others may benefit from 12- to 16-hour sessions. Next, determine the date or dates to begin your process and hold your sessions.
  3. What? For the meat of the process, use planning session activities to create your organization’s Pole Star documents, objectives and goals for growth and success. Again, having a 3rd-party consultant and facilitator without skin in the game will contribute to more productive activities.
  4. How? By the end of the session, you should have decided upon the tactics needed to achieve the objectives and goals identified in step 3.
  5. Who? Also before the end of the planning session, assign the tactics to specific stakeholders, be they staff, board members, funders, volunteers, or otherwise. Ensure that you work with a consultant and facilitator who provides assignments in practical form, whether with clear lists or with Outlook, iCalendar, or ics files.
  6. Where? Evaluating the process is absolutely critical to the success of any strategic planning process. Without evaluations, success is unlikely, but certainly temporary. Where has the process brought you and where are you headed?

Answering these questions cannot be a one-time event. Such questions must be asked again and again. Formally, if more than three years have gone by since your nonprofit’s last planning sessions, it is likely time to start again with the Why?

What have you got to lose? The answer to that question can only lead to more questions.


Looking for a facilitator for your next planning session, click here or call Todd at (208) 649-4788.

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