Business planning can help manage current challenges faced by not for profit organisations, yet, it often gets overlooked. So, why bother business planning? In the words of Antoine de Saint Exupéry,
‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’.
Simply put, planning is the process of deciding how to do something. Rather than being set in stone, plans are the paperwork and (should) get updated on a regular basis.
The real art of strategic charity or social enterprise management lies within the planning.
A good plan allows organisations to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt, rather than lolling from one short term crisis to another. Organisations are often well equipped at describing where they are ‘in the moment’ and what they need to achieve, but ask the questions –
- why are you doing your work in this way?
- where are you heading?
and often, the tumbleweed starts to, well, tumble.
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else or even worse, stuck on the same spot, whilst others sail past you. And, rowing harder doesn’t help if you are heading in the wrong direction.
Business planning will provide the time to weigh up all available options, to prioritise what matters most, and work out ways to achieve it. Importantly, a good plan will help you decide what not to do.
Planning helps everyone to be clear about purpose and to focus their work to achieving those all-important goals. It reduces stress in teams, and it helps manage risk before crisis hits.
How much time should we set aside for planning versus doing?
There is no easy answer to this; time management versus attention management will be the topic of future blogs. Our advice – spend more time than you think you need, get a solid plan in place and regularly review and amend.
In the meantime, here are some key questions to ask, in the strategic planning process for your not-for-profit organisation.
- What is our purpose / why do we exist?
- What is our ambition for the charity?
- How do we measure success?
- What actions do we need to take now?
At The Round House, we work closely with boards and senior management, to develop sound strategies and business plans, helping clients to focus and prioritise work, whilst enabling them to attract funders and supporters.
Cindy Jenkins, SNAP Manager, says –
‘Working with Ceri has helped us see past the complications of our current situation, and allowed us to start thinking realistically about the different avenues open to us. Working through our strategy in this way has helped us to understand the risks and obstacles, and given us a better clarity of direction. We look forward to continuing our relationship with The Round House’.
For an informal conversation around support for your not-for-profit organisation, email [email protected]