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Strategic + Operational Planning

Strategic planning is a cyclical process that defines a nonprofit’s overall direction, and the activities and strategies to be employed in fulfilling its mission. Operational planning is a process that details measurable objectives, specific activities and budget. Nonprofits lay the groundwork for mission sustainability when they have a clear vision and goals for the future, include input from constituents, and form specific strategies for reaching these goals.
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Resource Format
 Staff Recommended
Alliance for Nonprofit Management
Nonprofit management support organization providing consultant/service provider database, event calendar, job board, resource center, and FAQ.
Assessing Community Needs Toolkit
Community Toolbox
Extensive toolkit on assessing community need and developing collaboration.
Beyond Financial Oversight: Expanding the Board’s Role in the Pursuit of Sustainability
Nonprofit Quarterly
This article examines the role of the board of directors in establishing organizational sustainability.
Business Resource Guide
Maine Department of Economic and Community Development
Guide/Tool, Organization/Agency
The mission of Maine’s Office of Business Development is to encourage business growth and
retention in Maine. They offer a variety of guides and support to help business people understand the resources available including, Tax Increment Financing, Community Block Grants, and multiple tax credit programs.
Change Management
TCC Group
The following resources provide tips, tools, and case studies to help organizations navigate change, including effectively communicated about change with staff and stakeholders.
Community Toolbox
Planning and management support organization providing in-depth instruction, examples, checklists, and various resources on over 250 topics.
Creative Ways to Solicit Youth Input
Public Profit
This guide provides step-by-step instructions to implement a variety of youth input activities.
Effective Project Management: 3 Critical Activities
Some simple suggestions for anyone embarking on planning and managing a project for the first time.
Financial Strategy Tools
Article/Blog, Guide/Tool
This article presents a method to profile an organization’s financial makeup, and to create a comparison to a panel of similarly situated organizations. The Nonprofit Cohort Analysis Tool (NCAT) helps nonprofit staff and board members to visualize trends in their organization’s revenue streams and expenditures; identify candidates for revenue growth or expenditure savings; and gain an understanding of placement among peer organizations.
Finding and Managing Consultants and Vendors
The following resources will help you find and manage consultants and vendors, whether for a defined project, or ongoing support. If you need a referral for support on fundraising, strategic planning, legal issues, accounting issues, meeting facilitation, technology, or any other outside support, start here. (Many of the consultants and vendors in the MANP Business Finder offer nonprofit rates.)
Getting Started with Data-Driven Decision Making
A free workbook that will help you identify what you want to measure and why, what metrics to use, how to communicate the results throughout your organization, and how to use data to plan.
How to Do Planning
Free Management Library
A compilation of resources, tips and templates to support planning.
Maine Data Scan
Data Innovation Project
The Data Scan is a repository of accessible, free, reputable, and relevant data sources from around the State of Maine to help nonprofit organizations find data to inform their program planning, strategic planning and grant writing.
Nonprofit Earned Income Strategies: Where to Start
Social Enterprise Associates
This guide outlines a process for assessing whether earned income is an appropriate strategy for your nonprofit and how to get started.
Organizational Lifecycle Assessment
Article/Blog, Guide/Tool
Every organization experiences lifecycle passages and changes. Nonprofit leaders who are aware of their organization’s development stage are positioned to be more strategic about planning for its future. Use these tools to assess your organization's leadership – the chief executive and board of directors – and identify what stage of development your organization is experiencing.
Pricing Guide: A Resource For Community-Based Organizations to Value and Price Services
SCAN Foundation
With increased pressure for nonprofits to diversify funding sources, many are exploring earned income strategies. This guide was developed to help organizations understanding different pricing models and set the prices and rates on their products and services.
Starboard Leadership Consulting Blog
Maine-based Starboard Leadership Consulting's blog features topics related to board governance and recruitment, leadership development and transition, and strategic planning.
Strategic Analysis
Free Management Library
Information and resources regarding environmental scans and identifying SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).
Strategic Leadership: What a Nonprofit Leader Really Needs to Know About IT
An interesting article outlining the skills a leader needs to manage technology planning, and how they are comparable to the way other types of projects are managed. The article also includes aspects to consider and pitfalls to avoid when doing technology planning.
Strategy Screen
Article/Blog, Sample/Template
A strategy screen is a tool for decision-making that outlines criteria your organization will consider when choosing or evaluating a new program, project or partnership through the lens of your overall strategic plan or priorities. Having such a tool in place in advance is extremely useful in helping your nonprofit be nimble and adaptable to emerging opportunities and needs while still staying true to your purpose and avoiding mission creep.
The 6 Ds of Needs Assessments
Community Solutions
A simple overview of the key questions to address during a community needs assessment.
The Bubble Sheet – A Flexible Action Planning Tool
A simple action planning framework, with key questions to prompt groups through the process.
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