Everything You Need To Know About Strategic Planning For Your Association: Part 1

by Caitlin Smith 

Did you know highly successful associations and nonprofits report that Strategic Planning has a high impact on overall organizational success? Though Strategic Planning can seem daunting and time consuming, setting aside time to create your organization’s strategic plan is worth it.  

Here is a brief introduction to Strategic Planning and why it’s important.

What is a Strategic Plan? 

Strategic planning was a cutting-edge concept in the 1960s. Quickly through calcification, it turned into a fixed template that inadequately addressed the need for flexibility. Today’s modern approach puts a premium on agility, efficiency, inclusive participation, and making the tough but important decisions.  

When strategic planning is done well, it: 

  • Aligns the association from top to bottom 
  • Is agile and responsive to the latest external trends 
  • Focuses limited resources on the most important outcomes 
  • Represents a common, agreed-upon basis for making key decisions shared by volunteers and staff 
  • Supports performance measurement 
  • Enables leaders to make the difficult decisions about scaling back or terminating programs and activities 

When strategic planning is done poorly, it: 

  • Locks the association into inflexible plans for extended periods 
  • Drains creativity and innovation 
  • Is an enormous administrative drain for the association staff and volunteers to administer 
  • Focuses on the minutiae 
  • Misses the big picture 
  • Can cause one to spend more time debating the process to be followed than considering the key strategic issues. 

How often should we do Strategic Planning?  

The American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) recommends associations conduct a strategic planning meeting at least once a year. Even though the time horizon for a strategic plan may cover three to five years, it is valuable to look out at the next period each year using a mechanism to revisit or shift the focal points of the plan nimbly in response to internal and external changes. That way, each year’s annual plan will be firmly grounded in a long-term focus. 

Look out for our next post

As you can see, Strategic Planning is incredibly important for any thriving association. Our next post will discuss what to focus on when conducting Strategic Planning.

Do you need help with your association’s Strategic Planning? Contact IMI Association Executives today! We’ve helped numerous clients not only create plans, but we’ve helped them accomplish the goals they wanted to achieve. Contact us today!

Leave a Reply