All kidding aside, it can often feel like participating in a battle of wits or intestinal fortitude would be easier than getting a nonprofit board to engage in strategic planning, one of their key responsibilities.
Nonprofits have a unique set of challenges to navigate, such as limited resources, complex stakeholder relationships, and fluctuating public sentiment. To succeed in such an environment, a strong strategic plan is vital. However, developing a comprehensive strategic plan can be a daunting task, particularly for organizations that lack the necessary expertise in-house. Add to this the perennial issues plaguing nonprofits of
too small a staff, wearing multiple hats, and your board is all-volunteer, so no one has the time and energy to manage the process and write it internally. In such cases, engaging an outside consultant is a smart move. But convincing a board to invest the financial and time resources in an outside consultant can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you make a compelling case for bringing in an external resource to drive the development of a strategic plan.
Highlight the benefits: Emphasize the potential benefits of a comprehensive strategic plan, such as improved decision-making, increased efficiency, better fundraising, accountability on all levels, and stronger stakeholder engagement. Provide concrete examples of how a strategic plan can help the organization achieve its mission. This case study or this one provides a good example.
Showcase the consultant's expertise: Research and vet potential consultants, and present their credentials and experience to the board. Highlight the value that an external consultant can bring to the table, such as fresh perspectives, specialized skills, best practices from other organizations, and connections which can help move the organization forward.
Show how it aligns with the organization's goals: Demonstrate how hiring an outside consultant aligns with the organization's goals and values. Emphasize that it is an investment in the organization's future, and that it will help the organization achieve its long-term vision.
Address concerns: Anticipate any concerns the board may have, such as cost or loss of control, and address them proactively. Provide a clear cost-benefit analysis, and ensure that the board retains ultimate decision-making authority throughout the process.
Demonstrate the consultant's role: Clearly define the consultant's role in the process, such as facilitating discussions, conducting research, and drafting the plan. Ensure that the consultant works closely with the board and staff to ensure that the final plan reflects the organization's vision and goals.
A strategic plan is a critical tool for nonprofit success. Using a consultant to develop a strategic plan can be a wise investment for nonprofits. By highlighting the benefits, showcasing the consultant's expertise, demonstrating alignment with the organization's goals, addressing concerns, and clearly defining the consultant's role, you can make a compelling case to your board. Beyond just creating the plan, that resource earns credibility and accountability if they also can also help implement the created plan, as CSR can.
About the Author:
Patrick, the author of this blog, boasts over 25 years of leadership experience in various nonprofit institutions, particularly in the public horticulture and museum sectors. He is recognized for his problem-solving skills and collaborative approach in developing and implementing strategic plans that align with an organization's unique mission. Patrick's expertise spans fundraising, board development, program creation, and organizational change, and he has actively contributed to the nonprofit sector through roles with organizations like the American Public Gardens Association and the American Alliance of Museums.
Ready to elevate your nonprofit organization's impact with a comprehensive strategic plan?
Let's work together to ensure your nonprofit is well-positioned to achieve its mission, make a lasting impact, and excel in the complex landscape of the nonprofit sector. Don't let the challenges hold you back. Reach out to CSR today and let us be your strategic partner for success. Contact us at 404-850-7957, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . For a more convenient way to connect, fill in the contact form.