Impact of Strategic Planning and Thinking
The process of strategic planning requires coherent and detailed research of organizational resources and social needs. In fact, a person who wants to establish a new strategy should have good analytical skills. Thus, the organizational success does not only mean the dynamics of organizational growth but also the quality of projects it serves. For example, the peculiarity of non-profit organizations is that the rate of their success particularly depends on the projects they coordinate and/or implement, their social value, and budget. Additional criteria for strategic planning belong to the area of influence, organizational sustainability, and image of organization which also includes the management and history of the organization. The six practices identified by Crutchfield and McLeod-Grant in Forces for Good empower non-profit organizations if all these components function properly. The paper discusses that strategic planning is a matrix of measured resources, opportunities, and expectations that reinforce six practices mentioned in the book Forces for Good.
The process of strategic planning in a non-profit organization consists of several stages which are devoted to the key questions.
In fact, the main points include:
a) What the team wants to achieve;
b) In which way it can be done;
c) Which actions should be made;
d) How much it will cost;
e) Where to get money;
Strategic planning might adopt several approaches, particularly administrative, partnership, and expert. The authors explain them giving the examples of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Heritage Foundation. To reinforce six practices of high impact on non-profit organizations mentioned in the book, it is necessary to remember that strategic planning define clearly the coherent concept of organization. They allow to organize the activities required for successful implementation of the strategy. Besides, the team can define the mission. Additionally, the value of strategic planning belongs to the identification of how organizational mission combines the goals of members, volunteers, and external partners of the organization.
In fact, six practices enable the team to understand the main objectives and follow the strategies which smooth the process and minimize the risk. For example, in advocacy and serving, strategic thinking should focus on how organization can use external connections to achieve own goals. It should contain a clear plan of who, when, and how can be involved in the process. For example, if an organization plans to provide community development program in the sphere of medical service optimization, it should cooperate with the local government and other experts in order to achieve the goal. The book provides a good example of the advocacy campaign by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to Crutchfield and McLeod-Grant, “the strategy should include the time for negotiations with clear knowledge of who should be involved, legal procedure and advocacy by itself.”
Additional advice for the reinforcement should correspond to a backup plan on how to act if advocacy or negotiation fails. It vitally important to know what alternatives can be. For example, a company can cooperate with other organizations, change investors, or even redefine the focus of the project. The more optional varieties the strategic matrix has, the less risk of failed activity appears. Simultaneously, the organization should earn high reputation for good sustainable partnership with government and international partners whose decision influences the future of concrete project and organization. If an organization succeeds in advocacy and serving, it will be known as a responsible or irresponsible partner in future.
The second mentioned practice is about making markets work. It means that an organizational team should do everything possible to improve mutual cooperation and make it beneficial for both business and non-profit organization. A mistake of many strategies is that the managers decide to address business only when an organization needs something. Unfortunately, they rarely make a proposal for how organization can be useful for business. As a result, many business clusters consider their help to the non-profits organization unnecessary because the maximum that they can receive from this cooperation is poor advertisement and thanks. The authors believe that this issue is one of the key points for reinforcement. Indeed, the cooperation can contribute to social development and offer additional bonuses. For example, once Fred Krupp “and his son composed a letter to the CEO of McDonald’s proposing that the company work with EDF on a plan to reduce its solid waste.” Their strategy was to include the popular brand in the work. Undoubtedly, business is the structure which is related to the authority and maintains good communication with the government since businessmen frequently require commercial advocacy or popularization.
Thus, it is essential to encourage the business to work not only for own profit but also for the community well-being since it is the community which mostly consumes goods and services proposed by the local manufacturers. If people can afford their goods, the profit increases. If they are unable to purchase them, sales drop. According to David La Piana, “when you focus on goal-setting rather than strategy formation, you get goals that, while valuable in themselves, may not add up to anything bigger.” As a result, the volunteering approach is highly popular because it improves corporate social responsibility and dedication to the main objectives. In the case of successful arrangement between non-profit and for-profit organizations, the first party receives funds or other material and non-material goods that can help in the fulfillment of the project. The second party can have marketing bonuses. Besides, an organization might purchase later. In fact, the companies which invest in the development of the community increase their reputation on the market. This strategy can decrease the rates of competitors.
The third practice requires detailed strategic examination and relates to the inspiration of others. Collaboration with the “fellow nonprofits,” as the authors call them, can be very helpful. Obviously, volunteering network is important for many reasons. In fact, it helps in the issues that cannot be covered by the budget. Besides, it boosts the popularity of organization, especially among youth. Finally, good volunteers extend partnership network and help in the key moments. For example, if an organization schedules a conference or a festival, the volunteers can assists in the preparation work, registration of participants, and completion of other tasks. In addition, motivated volunteers are the best promoters of the ideas in the community. Consequently, the reinforcing strategy should include the analysis of how many volunteers are already present in organization and whether their number increases during the time of strategic implementation. Additionally, the strategy can include the concrete plan of measures on how to support old and involve new volunteers in common activities.
The fourth practice introduces the strategy which is nurturing for the non-profit networks because it allows to follow primary goals of the non-profit sector. It means that unstable relations between non-profit sector and business cannot lead to positive results which can have a damaging effect on the community. The authors mention EDF and Greenpeace disapproving the radicalism of Greenpeace. Its attitude frequently leads to the opposite effect. According to Crutchfield and McLeod-Grant, “whereas these activists stand outside the system, criticizing global capitalism or the current political administration, EDF and the organizations we studied make a point of working within the current economic and political reality.” This is a sample of how organization damages own reputation by competing against those who aim to reach the same goal. During the strategic thinking, a team should estimate this risk which can influence negatively the organization in front of the others. Thus, effectively planned policies are highly important.
Another practice relates to the art of adaptation and develops an innovative approach to strategical planning. Generally, innovation refers to unknown or improved practices which optimize the process and make it more cohesive and efficient. Having analyzed the book, it becomes clear that if a non-profit organization defines strategically own directions and fields of work, it can concentrate more on the quality of projects. Thus, modern issues of development depend remarkably on IT sector, the electronic government in weaker communities, and energy efficiency. These topics are innovative in technological meaning. Though, the quality of work should include new methods of resolving the problems. In fact, modern technologies allow to share leadership between involved parties. It means that stakeholders should learn to cooperate and to delegate the responsibilities. As a result, the non-profit organizations make clusters or coalitions where each member knows his or her tasks and cooperates in order to achieve a common goal. However, leadership might not always lead to success. Indeed, the main contributors are usually unknown. It does not mean also that every public person made something valuable. Strategical thinking predicts these moments. Thus, the genuine leaders try to identify when they should leave and give others the chance to succeed.
Thus, the matrix of strategic thinking and planning is complicated because the components should be well-developed. The non-profit sector cannot work as the business since it has different principles and practices. The authors mention six practices which empower non-profit organizations. They should have a clear vision where to move and which resources to involve. Community well-being is more important than own ambitions, thus leadership can be shared between stakeholders when it is necessary. Properly evaluated power of organization and strategical vision can launch valuable projects aiming to sustain life.