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International Strategic Planning Month… Here are TOP elements you need in your plan to soar next fiscal year.

It is International Strategic Planning month, and time for organizations to develop their strategic plans for the year. Although it can seem cumbersome, strategic plans are vital to ensuring your organization meets its goals and objectives. It also aids your team in knowing where to properly manage time and resources and effectively reach your targeted audiences.

By answering the following questions, you will position your organization to soar this fiscal year.

International Strategic Planning Month… Here are TOP elements you need in your plan to soar next fiscal year.

1. Why does your organization need a strategic plan?

The first step in developing an annual strategic plan is to know why you want and need one. Consider the needs of your organization and the needs of your stakeholders. Perhaps your organization has never thought to put a strategic plan together in general. You might just be starting and need a new direction. Or maybe you had a tough year like many municipalities, foundations, and other organizations have had due to COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) created its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan 2021 (SPRP2021) in follow-up to the organization’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. These strategic actions focused on the new challenges, for example, to lessen the risks related to new variants—such as the safe, equitable, and effective delivery of diagnostics and vaccines.

The benefits of using a strategic plan include:

  • Paints a picture to stakeholders on progress within the organization
  • Promotes mission-driven values within the organization
  • Shows your organization is guided by success
  • Invites staff to be future-focused
  • Furthers the organization’s mission

2. What are your goals?

After understanding the purpose behind your organization’s strategic plan, the next step is to determine your goals. Goals and objectives should be specific and detailed. Decide what you want each department to develop and achieve, and your organization’s holistic goals and objectives based on the needs of your stakeholders.

– What if you can’t determine strategic goals and objectives?

Conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (S.W.O.T.) analysis can help you get there. This should be done at least once per year.

A S.W.O.T. analysis is done in order to help your organization formulate objectives.

Take the time to brainstorm internally to determine:

  • Strengths (internal) – What your organization does well.
  • Weaknesses (internal) – Where your organization can improve.
  • Opportunities (external) – What market trends could positively impact your organization.
  • Threats (external) – Which external factors (competitors, pandemic, etc.) could have a negative impact on your organization?

In addition to an internal S.W.O.T analysis, interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and town hall meetings are other forms of stakeholder research and examples of how your organization could better understand the needs of your stakeholders, which in turn helps to determine the goals and objectives of the organization.

3. What is your organization’s plans for the future?

It’s important to know why you’re creating a strategic plan for your organization so you can know where your organization is heading into the future. Consider the premises of your organization in order to determine the best future course of action.

– What are the internal and external premises of your organization?

Internal premises come from the organization itself. It is the beliefs, behaviors, and values of the executives and employees of the organization. Examples of internal premises include the forecasts, policies, and programs of the organization, competence of management, organizational capabilities, and other resources of the organization in the form of practices and, in some cases, profits.

External premises come from outside of the organization. It comprises of the cultural, economic, political, social, and technological environment and cannot be controlled by the organization. Examples of external premises include government policies and the rate of growth in the population and economy.

Crafting premises based on internal and external factors will ensure your organization’s strategic plan is feasible and sustainable. In addition to internal and external premises, feedback from downstream and upstream stakeholders should also be taken into account.

– What are downstream and upstream stakeholders?

Downstream stakeholders are the target audience. They’re those the organization seeks to influence and reach. It includes the general public, residents, visitors, media, advocacy influencers, and potential partners.

Upstream stakeholders develop the product to bring to the target audience. They are the other audience members that do not necessarily have to be influenced based on the information itself. Rather, their influence is in the dissemination of information and actively promoting the organization and its offerings.

4. How can your strategic plan aid in organizational sustainability?

international strategic planning

Knowing the internal and external premises and the kind of stakeholders your organization has is not the only way to forecast the future. Researching other ways in which your organization could achieve its goals is another avenue.

Aside from the S.W.O.T. analysis and knowing the feedback from your stakeholders, a community needs assessment or environmental scan can help your municipality or organization obtain information from the environment.

A community needs assessment provides municipalities and organizations with a picture of the local policy, systems, and environmental change strategies currently in place. The assessment seeks to understand the needs of the community by gathering accurate information. It can help municipalities and organizations to identify areas for improvement in its services to their communities.

An environmental scan includes the ongoing tracking of trends and occurrences in an organization’s internal and external environment. Currently and in the future, these internal and external trends determine its success.

5. Which plan will your organization choose?

Once you’ve gathered all of the data you can to support your goals, it’s time to decide which plan or which model your organization will choose to implement. There are dozens of plans and models to choose from, portrayed in this article from ClearPoint Strategy, which features 16 of the most popular ones. In our last article, PivotPath introduced you to the PESO model for developing an effective communications and visibility plan. So how will you know which is best for your organization?

strategic plan

Before setting yourself up for confusion, consider these questions:

– Is it expensive?

Your organization will want to pay the least amount of money possible for whichever strategic plan or model you choose.

– Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Make sure your organization chooses the strategic plan or model that has more positive potential outcomes than negative ones.

– Is it fixed?

Finally, you’ll want a strategic plan or model that isn’t rigid or fixed but adaptable should things change with your objectives during the planning process.

– What will be your supporting plans?

After the initial strategic plan is in place, it’s important to determine a secondary, supporting plan to meet your goals. Some organizations can do this in their annual report that happens once per year, while the strategic planning timeline can take place anywhere from every one to five years.

Never made an annual report? No worries! PivotPath can help you to create your best annual report yet.

The benefits of using an annual report include:

  • Strengthens the relationship with the strategic plan by crafting newer strategies that further the strategic plan’s goals.
  • Supports the mission of the organization in daily practice.
  • Gives staff a clear course on their responsibilities to the plan and their department.

6. Are you listening?

The most important takeaway from creating your strategic plan is to make sure you’re listening and connecting with your stakeholders. Strategic planning and the background research involved may take anywhere from six to nine months. But it ensures that your organization will know what its stakeholders want and need, which will aid your organization in achieving its goals and objectives.

PivotPath has experience in B2G marketing and communications. We can help you implement your most successful strategic plan yet. Contact us for a FREE strategy session.

End of Year Blues? Here are 6 Tips on Creating your BEST Annual Report

Writing up the required annual report can be the most dispiriting part of the year for nonprofits and community foundations, especially in a year so many were threatened by COVID-19. However, it can also be an opportunity to effectively market your organization’s story by getting visually creative. Here are six tips to craft your best annual report yet.

annual report

1. Work as a Team

John Maxwell states “teamwork makes the dream work.” The same can be said in relation to creating your best annual report. Engaging annual reports are not solely developed by the CEO and your organization’s numbers. Assign tasks to each department head and partake in a planning committee to decide the information your organization will need, such as who will be responsible for assembling the income and expenditure reports. Utilizing your graphic design and content writing teams may help to share the story of your accomplishments and activities.

Graphic designers can:

  • Be creative with the colors of your brand to highlight the past year.
  • Use best design practices.
  • Make infographics, charts, graphs, and other visuals to showcase your brand.
  • Work with photographers to create powerful data visualizations, including photos and videos.

Content writers can:

  • Use the facts and figures to craft the story of the year to tell your story in a relatable way.
  • Interview supporters, employees, and any others who can enhance the accomplishments of your organization.
  • Combat challenges with transparency and prove that your organization has accomplished its mission and has been responsible to its supporters.
  • Use the facts and figures to forecast your company’s fiscal future.

2. Share Your Story

While the basics of an annual report include an introduction, a shareholder’s letter, a business profile, a financial statement, and an auditor’s report, the most important aspect of a good annual report is sharing your organization’s community with the impact of the year that will be told throughout the document.

An annual report should never be boring. To counter that, you don’t want to only report the facts and figures with your shareholder letter and call it a day. Instead, you want to use the facts and figures to showcase the activities, accomplishments, successes, and failures of the year and the years going forward.

Content writers can do this in several ways. They can simply list the activities, accomplishments, successes, and challenges in relation to the mission. To collect additional information, they can interview supporters, donors, and strategic partners, and use those interviews throughout the report in conjunction with the tasks, achievements, progress, and shortcomings listed. In addition, the writers can interview and write personal profiles on supporters/donors, employees, and others who have made an impact on your company, and/or on how they may impact your organization in the future.

Your best annual report:

  • Introduces the audience to your company.
  • Explains what your company has done in the past year.
  • Uses the facts and figures to highlight the accomplishments of your organization from the prior year.
  • Describes how your organization will do what it wants to achieve in the future.

3. Let’s Get Visual

Humans are visual beings—over 90 percent of information processed by the brain is from sight. According to Neuroscience News, even those born without sight use the visual part of their brains when hearing sounds in the dark.

So it is no wonder, then, that in order to create the most engaging annual report you can make, you must consider making it aesthetically pleasing. It should also be visually appealing to positively represent your organization and attract your targeted audience(s). And there are many ways to do that, including a food company that asked its supporters to bake part of their annual report booklet in order to read it.

Two other creative examples include Vrijwilligersacademie Amsterdam, a volunteer foundation in the Netherlands that encouraged their supporters to turn their annual report into origami after reading it, and Sonae, a shopping center company that turned their annual report into playful, rotating gears.

While print is the traditional way to go with annual reports, many organizations these days find that digital reports can be the most cost-effective, creative way to reach more supporters. It is also one of the easiest ways to market to more audiences through email, social media, etc.

This digital report from the Humane Society of the United States in 2019 showcases beautiful animal photography mixed in with articles explaining their accomplishments and interviews from supporters.

Some organizations have found using videos to create their annual reports has been the creative way to go. There are several reasons why video marketing is beneficial.

4. Be Transparent

Being transparent can be important to any part of an organization, but particularly in creating your best annual report. Your organization should not only divulge its activities and accomplishments from the past year, but it should also stress the shortcomings. Many organizations have had to face challenges in the past couple of years due to COVID-19.

An effective example is this digital report from Pathfinder International in 2020, whose impact included how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their organization’s mission and the people they help. Pathfinder International is an organization that supports women in making their own reproductive choices. In their annual report last year, they explained how they moved through the challenges of the pandemic, from health services and contraceptive supply chain issues to nationwide lockdowns.

5. Forecast Your Fiscal Future

An annual report typically goes over the prior year’s financial successes and pitfalls. A good annual report projects the potential for future revenue growth, too.

It’s also important to ask and answer what activities your organization will take on in the future. Don’t make your audience work to find out more about your future course of action.

Your best annual report:

  • Compiles your organization’s plans for the future.
  • Incorporates new programming and services your organization plans to propose.
  • Comprises plans for research and development.
  • Presents information about other opportunities and initiatives for your organization.

Providing a future plan of action gives your supporters an idea of your organization’s direction, which can help with monetary support.

6. Ask for Feedback

Include a feedback or response form. It can be helpful to know how your audience feels about your organization and your annual report. After all, effectively listening to your audience is essential. Feedback or response forms can help your supporters communicate about their opinion or questions they have on your annual report. That way, you can prepare to make an even better annual report in the future.

To keep your audience content, it may even be important to consult with your board members and supporters during the process of creating your annual report. Include them in the design direction. You don’t have to act on everything they say. However, incorporating some of your audience’s wishes will ensure that the final result is met with openness and transparency.

It’s important to keep an eye on your audience and how they respond to your annual report not only for transparency. You also want to get to know them.  Don’t just repeat the same unhelpful information over and over again. For annual reports that are created digitally, find content creation platforms that offer analytics reports. This will allow you to quantitatively measure and enhance your annual report for future use.

If all else fails and you need help finding what your audience wants, ask our team of creatives at PivotPath to help your organization pave the way to your best annual report yet. Contact us for a free consultation today.