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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 [...]

2016-03-31T00:25:38-04:00March 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 [...]

2020-02-21T19:18:44-05:00March 30th, 2016|All Posts, Strategic Planning|

UMD Board Announces New Executive Director

DURHAM – Durham’s emergency homeless shelter and free meal provider has hired a new executive director with more than 20 years of experience leading human services agencies, the board announced Wednesday. The Urban Ministries of Durham board unanimously selected Sheldon Mitchell, previously at Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. He will take charge March 14. Board Chair David Sotolongo said the seasoned nonprofit executive stood out among the dozens of qualified candidates attracted by the national search. Mitchell succeeds outgoing Executive Director Patrice Nelson, who last summer announced that she would be ending her nearly 7-year tenure leading the nonprofit. UMD helps 6,000 homeless and poor residents of Durham each year using a cash and in-kind budget of $3 million. Mitchell said that UMD’s core values of respect, accountability and collaboration speak to his own deep belief in treating everyone [...]

2016-03-30T12:30:24-04:00March 30th, 2016|All Posts, Client Highlights, Staffing|

Making the best of unexpected circumstances by Mary Moss and Susan Ross

Perspectives on change and the unexpected from moss+ross co-founders and partners Mary Moss and Susan Ross... Over the course of our consulting careers, we have worked intimately with more than 100 organizations. Some embrace change, planned or not, while others grit their teeth and hope they make it through. Our perspective is that change can be a wonderful catalyst for leaders to step back and rethink, reorganize and restructure operations for the best. And in the 21st century, change is a given in almost every environment. An organization that is not changing is probably withering. Sometimes forced change offers opportunities that were not there before. Maybe you have an unspent salary to invest in strategic planning or an assessment you know you need. Perhaps you have been organizing your staff workload around a person’s strengths or weaknesses, and the change [...]

Developing a culture of gratitude by Jeanne Murray

At this time of year, you are busy creating year-end appeals and reaching out to donors to say thank you. As a development professional, you probably think of expressing gratitude as making those calls and writing those letters. Have you stopped to consider how gratitude looks and feels from your donor’s perspective? What do donors experience that is gratifying – that is, helps them see the impact of your organization and feel that their contribution made a difference? How can recognition and acknowledgement help donors feel connected to the future work of your organization? How can expressions of gratitude help donors feel noticed and invited to become more involved? Sometimes we are so close to our work that it helps to take a step back and look at ourselves from an “outside in” perspective. What does a donor (or potential [...]

Collaboration for greater impact

The old adage "many hands make light work" is just as valuable today as in the 1500s when this phrase was coined by English writer John Heywood. Although he did not work for a nonprofit, he understood the benefit of people joining together to meet a shared challenge and achieve a common goal. Homelessness Simulation at the United Way of the Greater Triangle By pooling resources for staffing, funding, development, communications, volunteers and/or database management, nonprofit and social services agencies with a similar goal and client base can have a huge collective impact. This is the model that one of our recent clients, the United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT), has been moving toward: a new strategic direction which reflects the nationwide efforts and successes of collaborative agencies meeting an area's most pressing needs. Homelessness Simulation at United [...]

“But I don’t wanna clean my database!” by LisaCaitlin Perri

It’s rare (but not unheard of) that anyone really looks forward to performing quality assurance checks on their database. Believe me, though: your future self, the rest of the staff and returning donors will thank you. Plus, over time, the process will get easier. If you have never attempted database cleanup before or if you’re unsure about your next steps, take a deep breath and read on. Linked below are some guidelines for cleaning up your database. As you review what the author has to share, know that improved data management can become an ongoing priority rather than a chore in your organization. Your day-to-day work will feel more manageable, communication with other departments (if you have more than one) will get better, the accuracy of reporting will be maintained, and your donors will have no reason to question management [...]

Grateful for our community partners

When we started moss+ross in 2009, we made a strategic decision to define the Triangle and surrounding region as our service area. As we thought about our ideal nonprofit clients and the difference we wanted to make, staying local made the most sense. On November 28, many of us will shop at our favorite local stores in support of Small Business Saturday. As one of these businesses, albeit without a storefront, moss+ross is grateful to you, our clients, for shopping locally for the best nonprofit strategic planning and development counsel. We couldn’t be happier with the result of our local focus. To date, we have partnered with 106 clients, many of whom have hired us multiple times. Our clients enrich the fabric of our community, and we are grateful for our partnership with you!

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