Strategic Planning

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Risk Management and Continuity Planning

By Chuck Fyfe and Jim Roberts. Many organizations are now asking themselves: Could we have been better prepared? As nonprofits look to the future, risk management and continuity planning is a high priority. Effective emergency and crisis management planning cannot foresee every possible scenario, but it can prepare organizations for addressing adversity from any quarter. Organizations need this type of planning to face the future realistically and avoid the optimistic bias of everyday operations. Checklist for Planning Your organization must systematically identify and prioritize risks, articulate prevention and mitigation strategies, develop contingency plans to ensure business continuity, and provide a framework for effectively managing through unavoidable emergencies. In addition, you should consider the possibility that some change may be permanent and require a modified business model. Addressing this whole spectrum is essential to prepare for what could [...]

2020-05-22T15:26:28+00:00May 21st, 2020|All Posts, Strategic Planning, Team Expertise|

The Room Where It Happens

By Mary Moss. If you’ve seen Hamilton, you know that the “Room Where it Happens” means more than just clever lyrics and melody. History is made by having the right people in the room, people whose actions and commitment will change everything. Alexander Hamilton was in the room, and as they say, the rest is history. Who is in your room? As staff, do you have the right people in your room? As board or committee members, do you have the right volunteers in your room? This past month has been an extraordinary one for some moss+ross clients. To name only a few:  * SECU Family House and Oak City Cares celebrated successful campaign conclusions * Healing Transitions and Durham Tech met huge milestones in their campaigns * Voices Together hired a Director of Development and Eno [...]

Recipe for Nonprofit Success: Three Essential Ingredients

By Mary Moss. Imagine your organization has stopped operation. Imagine funds have run out. Imagine the population your mission supports cannot be served. Everything stops. Imagine the despair. For the leaders at Community Music School (CMS) in Raleigh, this was reality, not imagination, and on the front page of the News & Observer a few years ago. Fast forward to today, where CMS is thriving, growing, adapting, and serving more students as it lives into its mission To Create Brighter Futures Through Music. Fundraising numbers are way up, teachers are being recognized in myriad ways, and more students than ever are clamoring to see their brand new facility located at Longleaf School of the Arts in Southeast Raleigh. How did this extraordinary state of affairs turn around? CMS leaders concentrated on three key ingredients. This is a simple recipe, [...]

Your Board Really Can Be Great!

By Susan Ross. I was asked for my perspective on the probing question “Is Your Board Any Good?” in a recently released short video from local agency Angel Oak Creative. During the filming, I suggested to the interviewer that “Is your board as good as you need it to be?” might be a better question. At moss+ross, we work with lots of boards, and Mary and I have rarely run into one that really is not “any good.” But we have seen boards that aren’t making best use of their skills, have fallen into performance ruts or lost their focus, and have ended up being less effective than the nonprofit or institution – or their board members - deserved. Sometimes a retreat or custom training can be a big help to getting a board reengaged and focused. Last [...]

Six Questions to Consider in Hiring a Nonprofit Consultant

By Kate Hearne. 1. Do we need a consultant? Look at your strategic plan or annual fundraising plan. What are your goals and how do you plan to move the needle toward those goals? Will you just work longer and harder? Maybe. Or maybe some of those goals would benefit from the outside perspective, strategy, and accountability that a consultant can bring. 2. How can a consultant help?  If you are meeting your fundraising and operational goals, a consultant can help you reach goals above and beyond the day-to-day responsibilities like a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program. If you’re not reaching your targets, a consultant can recommend new strategies and give an unbiased assessment of how you can strengthen your program. The benefit of a consultant is the additional support, creative thinking and extensive experience that will add value to [...]

Dream Big, Plan Well, Execute to Perfection by Mary Moss

Those are three phrases that I use to guide many facets of my personal and professional life.  I did not grow up knowing how to do any of these things with respect to advancement (or much of anything else).  It is through 35 years of practice that I have become more seasoned in these areas. With respect to planning (i.e., the focus of this issue), in my very first development position, I was asked to write a plan on how to increase totals aggressively in a relatively new phonathon program.  Terrified does not even begin to describe what 25-year old me felt. I had no clue what the vice president of this university wanted to see or how to begin or why I had to do it.  My first step was to ask my peers what they thought should be in [...]

Formulas for Success with a Strategic Plan

Once a strategic plan is in place, it shouldn't sit on the shelf. Proactive organizations revisit their plans regularly and pay attention to the milestones for achieving their vision. This takes many forms; here are a few examples: Pictured above: moss+ross associates Lizzy Mottern, Brooke Jenkins, Chuck Fyfe, and Fred Stang 1. Syncing up: Consider an online survey to assess whether there is a common understanding about the mission, and if the Board's goals are aligned with the staff's. This technique is especially useful when you've had new board members or new staff members join your organization. 2. Self-evaluation: Even the best board can benefit from a self-evaluation about performance, leadership and alignment with strategic plans. Such an assessment is particularly important as a tool for correcting course. 3. Big picture: Organizations may neglect strategic planning because it [...]

2016-03-31T00:25:38+00:00March 31st, 2016|All Posts, Strategic Planning|

Examples From the Field

Our clients are an amazing group of creative and energetic professionals.  Here are a few things that have impressed us recently: 1. A school developing its first strategic plan reached beyond its traditional leadership and invited a parent who is a university human resources administrator and a principal from a nearby school to join the strategic planning steering committee.  Both individuals offered objectivity, fresh ideas, and organizational sustainability expertise to the planning process – helping to prioritize goals and identify actionable, measurable initiatives for the next three years. 2. The executive directors of several social services clients have been meeting regularly for over three years to discuss best practices and challenges in fulfilling their missions.  Along the way, these organizations have worked to eliminate duplication in services across agencies, implement more effective systems and programs for serving their clients, collaborate [...]

Strategic Planning: An Art, Not a Science by Chuck Fyfe

For many years, organizations embarking on a strategic planning effort followed an organized, pre-set process that grew out of a desire to justify large capital expenditures to investors.  Many books were written on the subject, and a generally accepted process was the norm.  Plans were populated with such elements as vision and mission statements, competitive analyses, SWOT analysis, risk assessments, resources analyses, etc.  And the plans were developed using similarly structured, replicable and defined processes. Chuck Fyfe, Senior Associate But in today’s world, and especially in the world of nonprofits, more attention must be paid to the specific needs of the organization in designing the process.  Unlike in the business world, nonprofits do not have the same set of performance measures such as net income, earnings per share or return on investment.  Often the goals are less tangible, [...]

The Importance of Strategic Planning by Mary Moss and Susan Ross

April Fools’ Day is not the only time reality can be hard to see clearly. Just ask any nonprofit executive, and you will get an earful of examples. Smart nonprofits do all they can to prepare themselves, though, and this means taking precious time from service delivery to plan for the future. Does your organization have a strategic plan? How is it used? When was it last updated? Strategic plans provide a framework for decisions about a variety of key issues and help you focus on what matters most. Susan Ross and Mary Moss In our experience, developing a plan is a critical step to strong fundraising. Savvy donors want not only to know how you will use their funds, but how you will change the world by what you are doing. Change the world?  Yes, indeed. We all want [...]

2020-02-21T19:18:44+00:00March 30th, 2016|All Posts, Strategic Planning|