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  • Writer's pictureJason Wong

3 Tips for Not-for-Profits on Strategic Planning: The Crucial “Why” of Taking Action

Recent economic statistics are enough to give anyone pause. In Canada, key interest rates at 5% are the highest they’ve been since 2001. Charitable donations are in decline, with nearly 30% of Canadians donating less or not at all, compared to previous years. Amid these shifts, not-for-profits face the dual challenge of adapting to a constrained financial landscape while staying committed to their missions. It's clear that in this new reality, proactive planning becomes an indispensable tool for not-for-profits, not just to navigate challenges, but to unlock opportunities for growth and enhanced efficiency.

Two Women Having a Meeting Inside Glass-panel Office
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Here are 3 practices to consider when planning ahead for your not-for-profit’s future:

1. Strategic Planning: It’s About Depth, Not Breadth

In a world that's constantly shifting, strategic plans need to be agile. Using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) on a quarterly basis allows organizations to set clear, concise goals, ensuring they can pivot as conditions change. They also help by providing:

  • Prioritization with clarity: Instead of trying to achieve everything, focus on fewer objectives to drive substantial impact. Establish a core team to set and review OKRs every quarter.

  • Accountability Definition: Ensuring everyone knows their role and responsibilities leads to efficient execution. Assign specific tasks tied to each OKR, ensuring clarity in who's accountable.

2. Go-To-Market Planning: Adaptability is Key

The most resilient not-for-profits are those that can adjust their offerings to the ever-changing needs of their audience. Take, for instance, Park Street Education, a Canadian educational charity part of MH3 Collective. In response to changing societal needs, they shifted their offering to ensure they are following their purpose of removing barriers to education. This was an adaptation that has shown its worth in the current era.

  • Adjust to the current needs: Understanding and anticipating what your audience requires now is paramount. Conduct bi-monthly surveys to gauge the changing needs of stakeholders and adjust offerings accordingly.

3. Elevating the Employee Experience: Cultivate a Learning Culture

A not-for-profit's strength lies in its people. In a fluctuating job market, it's essential to keep teams not just engaged, but growing and thriving. A culture that emphasizes learning ensures that employees are not just static contributors but evolving assets.

  • Build a growth and learning ecosystem: Offering avenues for skill enhancement ensures that employees are always progressing. Allocate a portion of the annual budget for employee development programs, including online courses, workshops, and seminars.

The economic indicators may seem challenging, but for not-for-profits willing to adapt, they also present an opportunity. Through agile strategic planning, a keen eye on market needs, and a commitment to nurturing their workforce, not-for-profits can not only weather the storm but emerge stronger.

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(Photo description: Two Women Having a Meeting Inside Glass-panel Office)


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