Standards for Excellence Institute Website: Nonprofit Strategic Planning for Sustainability

Updated: Apr 20

Nonprofit Strategic Planning serves as a cornerstone to ensure that an organization thrives over the long run, and, if done well, integrates a number of the Standards.





The Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector states “Nonprofits are founded for the public good and operate to accomplish a stated purpose through specific program activities.” This calls nonprofits to ensure that the statement mission is clear and that the organization engages in long-term planning activities. The


One of my colleague friends in Pennsylvania who recently conducted a Standards workshop asked me to follow up with one of the attendees (the board chair of a nonprofit who is an executive at a Fortune 100 company in his day job). Based on his experience, nonprofit planning was a meaningless exercise focused on SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). He didn’t feel planning included much strategy, or the “real” activities required to ensure sustainability. She asked me to educate him a little further about how nonprofit strategic planning really works.


My response included:


Nonprofit Strategic Planning serves as a cornerstone to ensure that an organization thrives over the long run, and, if done well, integrates a number of the Standards. In fact, it’s as essential as steering is to a ship, keeping the vessel on track to a desired destination. What nonprofit leaders don’t know about strategic planning can severely hinder their organizations’ mission and results, and often gives planning a bad name.


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