There comes a special time in every social impact organization’s development: that magic moment when “a plan” becomes desired and sought.
Organizations that invest resources towards development planning gain the ability to identify and act upon resource opportunities for sustainability and growth.
Social impact organization also seek to build its development planning as a natural extension of its past and current success, to enable room for external contingencies among existing funders, and internal transitions among team members.
So how do you know your organization is ready to undertake development planning?
- Everyone involved in the organization’s success is invested in the organization’s mission, vision, values, and priorities
- Everyone is committed to the success of the organization
- Leadership, staff, and board understand the is eager and ambitious
- Data, insights, and perspectives are available which reflect past and present experiences
- Organizational capacity and culture allows for honest, open, respectful, collaborative exploration of what works, what’s missing, and what’s possible
- All parties involved will commit to developing an inclusive process towards relevant, credible, practicable, usable, scalable actions
- Stakeholders and partners can and will dedicate consistent time and energy for planning where possible and appropriate
The catalyst for planning may differ according to the size, age, and complexity of an organization. Many times, organizations see a disconnect between their goals and their capacity. Sometimes it is a matter of desiring change. Sometimes emergency circumstances force a change.
Before committing to a development planning process, be clear whether it is a board-led, leadership-driven, or collective stakeholder focused framework. Often, boards will select a consultant to facilitate the overall process. That consultant will, in turn, work closely with the executive director and board representatives to collect, process, and distill the plan.
Smaller organizations may, alternatively, choose to create development plans within a leadership/staff team. Ideally, this approach utilizes the skills of the executive director, budget/finance staff, and fundraising team.
No matter what, the effort to develop planning must align with an organization’s existing commitment to its strategy.