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Strategic Planning: Don't Make It a New Year's Resolution, Make it Part of Your Business Plan

According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38% of Americans never make New Year's resolutions and of the 45% who usually do make them, only 8% of them are successful in achieving their resolution. I must admit that I am one of those people who has never seen much value in waiting until midnight on December 31st to announce plans for a behavior or professional change that needed to be made much sooner. How about you?

In the past year, I have had the chance to network with more grant professionals than ever before. If you are anything like me, this is always the best learning experience available by far. One thing that surprised me, though, was that so many of my peers do not provide strategic planning as part of their service to their clients, whether a consultant or staff. For me—and I know I am not alone—I cannot imagine my career without it. 
Strategic planning is the guide to almost anything I plan, whether it is for my clients, my personal life, a recipe, or my golf game (my least successful venture). For purposes of my profession, this guide stands as the work plan for all I do to get the resources needed for my clients. A strategic plan outlines where the organization has been, what is important to them, what they want to achieve, and who is going to be accountable for it. Following the completion of their strategic plan, we begin the process of developing an action plan to narrow down who will take on each strategy, what resources are needed for each strategy, and how to measure success within an established timeline for the same. This information gives me a guide to research funding resources continually, and it helps prioritize opportunities.
It sounds overwhelming, but I am here to tell you: the process works. One small, non-profit community group I worked with went through this process and had the following results: increased membership (20-65), the creation of two new working groups, and $499,000 in grant funds in the first two years. Funders want to know that organizations are not chasing money and that their opportunity is part of the strategic plan adopted with time and effort by those invested in the success and future goals of the organization. 
Clients often come to me wanting to be “grant ready,” and strategic planning is where we start. Not only does it outline what the priorities should be, but it also helps determine the programs and activities that are not sustainable as well. Whether it is a three-year or five-year strategic plan, if used as your guide, built upon, and reviewed frequently—you will have success.
Instead of worrying about New Year's Resolutions, how about putting strategic planning in your business plan? I am willing to bet more than 8% of you will have success if you do.
What is your New Year's resolution?
Cyndi MacKenzie, GPC has 12-years' experience and is a GPA Approved Trainer with offices in Naples, ME, and Brooksville, FL.