What is the difference between a strategic plan and an annual plan?
A strategic plan is a roadmap for the future of an organization. It entails analyses and specific organizational goals for a specific time, say next three to five years. On the other hand, annual plans take a year and come in two types. The first one is an agency-wide annual plan, which breaks down a long-term strategic plan as goals that should be accomplished over the next 12 months. The second one is annual planning by the development department that specifies goals and strategies that the fundraising team has been given.
How much time should you dedicate to creating an annual plan?
Developing a strategic plan can take about six to nine months, to be specific. However, for an annual plan, it takes just about a month. The process often includes assigning tasks and writing down the plan. It also includes staffing led by a steering committee comprising board and staff members. When developing your agency-wide annual plan, staff members from the steering committee will lead the planning process. The department heads will also be involved in the process of planning as required.
Reflect the stakeholder feedback
As a nonprofit leader, you will want to reflect on the stakeholder feedback as you think of a new annual plan. By reflecting on your past year, you understand the milestones that the organization hit, the goals that were set, the highs and lows by month and learn lessons that can help your organization achieve better things. Feedback from your team, donors and beneficiaries will help you understand how your nonprofit is operating and how you achieved your mission, vision and core values, as well as the impact you left.
Take inventory of your organization and analyze the four key functions.
As you think of an annual plan, take time to review the four functions of your organization, which are people, strategy, execution and cash, and how they performed in the previous year. Start by writing out your nonprofit's strengths, weaknesses and trends and analyze your key functions. This will help your nonprofit align with what has gone on well and what needs improvement. Always have a seat at the table when the goals of the nonprofit are being made and allow the development department to offer input. Doing this will help keep fundraising goals aggressive and realistic. Furthermore, taking inventory determines if there is enough staff and resources needed to achieve the set goals and gives recommendations when specific activities need outsourcing.
Incorporate your unexpected grants or restricted gifts from donors to your annual plan
Once you have satisfactorily completed your annual plan, you have to incorporate unexpected grants or gifts that you may receive in the middle of the year. This means that your plan needs to be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the middle of the year, for example, six months or even quarterly. Review the nonprofit's progress against goals, taking into account the new funds or resources available. This helps achieve the mission while tracking the progress of the organization. While doing this, you should always ask yourself if the annual plan you have is relevant at any given time. If not, tweak some areas to make it better.