Tuesday morning, I had the honor of sitting in a room with about ten other people. They were some of the most passionate people for their causes, and they were each there to learn how to create a strategic plan for their nonprofit.

The lady next to me started an organization called Luila Village Ministries to help women and children in the Congo. If I heard her correctly, she had already helped them get a school for the children, and now she is working on get clean water in the village. The people there have been going blind from the water they have been using.

On the other side of the room sat a pair of young women that created a program called Youth Empowerment through Arts & Humanities (YEAH). The nonprofit was developed by the two while they were in college as a way to reach out to youth while at rock camp.

The last lady I will mention works to find a cure for neuro-muscular diseases in children. The organization, Thisbe and Noah Scott Foundation, named after two children who lost their lives to Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere disease, is near to her heart. She helps to raise money to support research and support for families of pediatric neuromuscular diseases in general and motor neuron diseases like Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere in specific.

We all came to learn about strategic planning, but I learned so much more from just being in the room with everyone. Let me share with you my thoughts by using the four fundamental questions for strategic planning.

1. Where are we now? The instructor talked about looking at the status of your organization. Evaluate your current services, structures, budget, etc. One of the individuals in the training mentioned that they had went from having a small office to a big office to no office to a small office. They are still pressing on. I learned from them that if you let excuses stop you, you will never reach your destination. It is important to know where you are and where you want to go.

2. Where do we want to go? The instructor talked about thinking about where you want your organization to be in the future. I heard the Luila Village founder share with us that she hopes to that one day the village will be free from the blindness caused by the water.

3. How do we get there? The instructor said that it is very important to include your strategy for how you plan to get to where you want your organization to go. Then, the gentleman with community hospital talked creating a website to help increase their clients. In a time, where it seems like everything is online, his organization just started talking about their online options.

4. How will we measure our progress? The instructor stressed the importance of monitoring and making adjustments as you go. She suggested that if you have a three-year plan that you can update your goals each year. Some of the training participants used surveys and evaluations to measure progress. I would even suggest analytics and tracking forms.

We learned quite a bit from the five-hour training. We went step by step in developing a plan. I must say that there is one thing that training cannot teach you. That is the importance of doing work that you believe in. If you don’t believe in it, how can you expect anyone else to?

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