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Strategic Planning

Birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let's do it

"Let's do it (Let's fall in love)"
By Cole Porter

From Paris, opened October 8, 1928 Music Box Theatre, NYC; ran for 195 performances

Cole Porter was talking about falling in love; we're talking about doing strategic planning. The imperative remains the same -- let's do it! Love ..strategic plan, strategic plan…love -- the connection is a bit tenuous but we did get your attention, didn't we?

Benchmark has been doing work in strategic planning for over 15 years, mostly for legal services organizations, and an occasional school or library.

Let's Do It [sheet music]


On-Line Training

Books & Tools

Live Workshops, Consultants

Strategic planning is more than writing a mission statement and sticking it up on your waiting room wall or in the latest grant application. It's a living document that helps your organization and its people make important choices. It's a tool for finding your organization's best future and the best path to get there. It's a guide that helps potential funders understand what your organization can do.

We think that each unit and office within your program should have a strategic plan. What is the housing, public benefits or family law unit attempting to accomplish? What is the vision and plan of each branch office? What are the goals of the people in your program who do education work? labor and employment? consumer? Unit and substantive work plans should dovetail into the organization's plan.

In addition, each person should have his or her own strategic plan -- vision, goals and how to achieve them. For information on individual strategic planning, read the article, Developing Your Personal Vision and the worksheet that follows, Personal Vision & Quality
Services Worksheet.

In short, we believe that everyone should engage in strategic planning. This section contains articles, on line training modules, information on books, live workshops, consultants, and other useful tools to help you -- do it.

We'll keep adding material. Please give us feedback on this information. Send us information or links that you think should be included here.


Strategic Planning in Non-Profit Legal Services Organizations
Marie Contreras, Benchmark Institute
Short article on the basics of strategic planning.

Don't Make Your Organization's Statement of Purpose A "Mission Impossible"
Todd Poderis, Fundraising Forum
Creating or recreating a mission statement as an absolute prerequisite for effective fundraising.

Strategic Planning Help Files
FAQs from Nonprofit GENIE website maintained by C-MAP, the California Management Assistance Partnership, a consortium of 14 nonprofit support organizations providing training and technical assistance to local nonprofits.

On-line Training

Developing Your Strategic Plan
Free Management Library's
On-Line Nonprofit Organization Development Program Module #6

You can complete this module by yourself or with others. For example, you may wish to go through it with a group of other folks in your organization, other legal services providers or other non-profits. If you do economic development work, this may help you design a training for your organizational clients.

The learning module contains:

  • Introduction -- explains how the module fits into the program and the overall process of nonprofit organization development

  • Specific Materials for Review -- references specific and free materials needed to respond to all suggested topics for discussion and reflection and to the learning activities to build basic systems and practices

  • Specific Topics and Questions for Reflection and Discussion -- highlights key concepts to understand about the overall topic of the learning module

  • Specific Activities to Build Systems and Practices -- guides the learner to develop the basic systems and practices to successfully build and manage the nonprofit

  • Assessments -- helps the learner measure and/or evaluate extent of application of that topic to the learner's nonprofit

  • Tracking Open Action Items -- guides the learner throughout the program to consistently record and track any incomplete action items remaining from the current and previous learning modules

  • Reminders to Learners -- poses miscellaneous reminders for learners to ensure they're using information and skills from previous learning modules

  • Books & Tools
    Note: Buying your books from Powell's
    nets Benchmark 10% per book

    Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide and Workbook
    by Michael Allison and Jude Kaye. John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

    This book/disk set shows you how to create and implement an effective strategic plan using a seven-phase process that covers everything from defining your mission and setting your course to initiating, monitoring, and streamlining your plan. Designed for nonprofits of all budgets, it can be adapted to fit any time frame. It has field-tested worksheets, checklists, and tables plus a sample case study.

    Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations
    by Bryan Barry. Wilder Foundation, 1997 (Revised and Updated).

    This classic workbook gives you practical guidance through five planning steps. Reproducible worksheets help you develop the plan, involve others in the process, and measure results. Four planning methods show how to tailor the process to fit your organization's individual needs. A detailed sample of one nonprofit's strategic plan; and information on how multiple organizations, coalitions, and communities can use strategic planning.

    Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan: a Workbook for Public and Nonprofit Organizations
    by John M. Bryson and Farnum K. Alston (Jossey-Bass 2d Edition 2005)

    A step-by-step guide to putting strategic planning to work in public and nonprofit organizations, this indispensable workbook includes easy-to-understand worksheets and clear instructions for creating a strategic plan tailored to the needs of the individual organization

    Drucker Foundation Self-Assessment Tool

    Peter Drucker, management guru and professor, has written hundreds of books and articles. He has been called the most important management thinker of our time. The Drucker Foundation -- now Leader to Leader Institute -- focuses on non-profit management and leadership issues. The Self-Assessment Tool describes a process to clarify mission, define results, set goals, and develop a focused plan. This process is yet another way to do strategic planning.

    The Tool poses five key questions:

    • What is our mission?
    • Who is our customer?
    • What does the customer value?
    • What are our results?
    • What is our plan?

    You can preview information about Drucker's process here.

    The Process Guide is designed for facilitators; the participant workbook is for ….participants.

    The Drucker Foundation Self-Assessment Tool: Process Guide
    By Gary J. Stern, Introduction by Peter F. Drucker, Jossey-Bass, Rev.1999

    The Drucker Foundation Self-Assessment Tool: Participant Workbook
    By Peter F. Drucker, Jossey-Bass, October 1998

    Live Workshops, Consultants
    C-MAP, the California Management Assistance Partnership, is a consortium of 15 regional, nonprofit support organizations from Humboldt to Riverside. Each of these organizations provides workshops in nonprofit management and fundraising and information and referral to local community resources. Some partners also offer computer workshops, provide consulting services, host conferences and other events, and publish books and informational materials.