If you follow AMC on Facebook, you know I did a Facebook Live video on Strategic Planning for NPOs the other week. I love doing these as it gives viewers the opportunity to ask me questions live at pacificdreamscapes.com. Hope you’ll join my next one.

In case you missed it, you can watch the full video above and the transcript below.


I want to lay out a few tips for you to help you understand the key elements of Strategic Planning Process. For any of you who are on a volunteer board of directors. Whether you’re a president or vice president, treasurer, secretary, programming, chair, whatever your role is within a not for profit association. Sometimes you struggle with not really being sure what’s my role or what is our purpose? What are we working towards? What are our goals? I’m going to share with you really quickly five tips on strategic planning.

Schedule A Strategic Planning Session

If you’re on a board and you haven’t had a strategic planning session yet, my first piece of advice is schedule one. Habit. Do it. Most boards will have a strategic planning session as soon as the board is elected, as soon as they all get started. That’s important. Have that first strategic planning session. I’m going to share with you a couple of things that you need to do at the strategic planning sessions. Some best practices to help you get going. The first tip that you need to do is reestablish the mission of your associations. For those of you who are on board, sometimes you’re not really clear about, well, what is our purpose? What is our mission? What’s our vision? Who are our key stakeholders? You know, who are the communities we’re trying to serve? What are the different categories of membership and what are the things that we’re supposed to be doing for our members? That’s so important. You want to get together and reaffirm the mission of the association. That’s really about for some of the more seasoned directors informing and or reminding new directors what is our mission, what is our vision? But then also being willing to rework it and throw it out. I mean, sometimes it’s dated, sometimes it’s old, sometimes it’s not relevant. You need to be able to look through your current vision and mission and be willing to tweak it, improve it, throw it out if needed. That’s the first tip.

Establishing and Reinforcing Vision And Mission

The next element to strategic planning, once you’ve actually come up with your vision and mission and you’ve all agreed to it, your next step is to establish a strategic goal for the organization that is all based around that mission and vision. 

I’m talking big picture goals, not small goals, like tried to get 30 people to our next lunch and meeting. That’s really not a strategic goal. I’m talking about big time strategic initiatives. Like what do you guys want to accomplish in your one, two or three year term as directors. And even looking beyond that, where do you see your organisation going and growing and the next five or 10 years? Having a time horizon or five or 10 years is important when you’re creating a long term strategic plan. After you’ve come up with your vision and mission, the second tip I’m sharing with you is be sure that you come up with a some strategic goals for your organization that are consistent with the mission of your NPO. That’s the second tip.

Identify Some Major Objectives

A third tip is you want to then identify some major objectives that will support those strategic goals. You then want to break down those strategic objectives into smaller bite-size goals. That’s where maybe you come up with, you know, the number of people you want to have it, member meetings, the number of meetings you want to have. Maybe what the focus of those meetings will be. That’s where you start going from kind of macro to micro and zeroing in on some smaller bite-sized goals.

I want to share with you the first two tips that I offered around creating the vision and mission as well as the big picture strategic goals for the organization. Those are things that should be shared or developed by the board at the strategic planning session. Now, once you leave that meeting, some of these things around, you know, identifying the major objectives that support those goals. You could include your staff, you can include some people within the organization, paid staff, who can actually add some insights into how do we make this happen. But you want to make sure that you’re very clear on that big picture what, and the why first. Then include some of your staff around the implementation, which is the how, the execution. That was tip number three.

Identify Who Is Responsible For Completing Those Goals

Tip number four is you need to identify who exactly is responsible for completing those goals and objectives. This is where a lot of nonprofits go wrong. And I get it. I mean, we’re all volunteers. Look, I’m a volunteer director. In fact, I’m the President of a small nonprofit organization and I know we all volunteer our time. It’s really, really tough. What’s critical though, to make sure that those goals actually get achieved is to identify clearly who is responsible for the completion of those goals and objectives. There’s no confusion about who was going to do this. Often you have so many great ideas, but then they get dropped. 

They don’t get executed or implemented because there’s no one there to hold anyone to account saying, hey, you were responsible for this particular portfolio. Tip number four is to make sure that you identify who is responsible for implementing and accomplishing the goals and objectives. 

Establish Timelines For The Achievement Or Accomplishment

And then the fifth and final step I’m going to share with you right now is, um, during your strategic planning session, what you need to do is to establish timelines for the achievement or accomplishment of those goals. Of course, the first step is to come up with the goals. The second step is you need to identify who is going to do what. But then the last piece of the puzzle is you’ve got to establish some timelines. When will these objectives be achieved? When do those actions need to be completed? When you can identify those, those timelines, that is really gonna help you get going and make sure that your organization’s steps in the right direction. 


This is a quick recap for you guys. A tip one reaffirmed the mission of your NPO. Tip two establish strategic goals that are aligned with your vision or mission. Tip three is established major objectives that will support those big picture goals. Tip four is to identify exactly who is responsible for carrying those out and executing. And finally, tip five, establish some clear timelines for when those goals will be accomplished. I hope you guys found this tip useful or these tips useful. If you have any questions at all, post them in the comment section below or drop me a direct message and I’m happy to answer your questions and you might want to think about, you know, when is the next time you guys are going to plan your next strategic planning session? And if I can help at all, please reach out. I’m happy to help. Take care guys. Have yourselves a great evening. If you’re on the west coast in Canada and have a great afternoon if you’re in Singapore, bye guys.


In the video I cover the below 5 keys to a successful and comprehensive strategic planning process:

1. Re-affirm the mission of the NPO.
2. Establish strategic goals for the organisation, that are consistent with the mission of the NPO.
3. Identify major objectives that support strategic goals.
4. Identify who is responsible for the completion of those strategic goals.
5. Establish timelines for the accomplishment of the strategic goals and objectives.

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About Tom (TJ) Abbott

Tom (TJ) Abbott, CSP is the Managing Director of AMC NPO Solutions and an authority on Governance. He has over 25 years experience as CEO, President and board director of several not-for-profit organizations. Tom has also spoken in over 20 countries.

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