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Strategic planning is a collaborative, reflective and data-informed process that results in a clear set of goals with viable strategies for the next 3-5 years of an organization’s life. The ultimate purpose of the plan is to advance the compelling vision, engaging mission and core values articulated at the beginning of the process. After forming a strategic planning committee of key board and staff, the planning process launches into three distinct and interwoven phases.


Visioning the future and exploring the organization’s vision, mission and values. Questions asked include: “What impact do we want to have in the world?”, “What do we want to keep from our past and what do we want to change?”, “How do we, individually and collectively, deal with change?” and “Where do we want to be 3-5 years from now?” From this phase, consensus emerges about the strategic direction the organization will take, the kind of data needed for an informed planning process and a detailed work plan and timeline.


Data is gathered through various forms of stakeholder engagement; an assessment of internal strengths and weakness; and a study of the external environment. Analysis of the data reveals the key issues to be addressed in the plan. Questions here include: “What does the data tell us about ourselves and the world we inhabit?”, “Where do we need to focus our energy and resources in the short term and longer term?” and “What are our goals for the future – are they aspirational enough – are they realistic enough?”


Working from clearly articulated goals, and a strategy screen based on vision, mission, organization values, financial realities and organizational capacity, we develop a series of strategies for achieving each goal and a set of detailed tactics for each strategy. Key questions here include: “How do we maintain our momentum?”, “How can we integrate this plan into the organization’s DNA?” and “How will we know if we are staying on time and on track for success?” Included with the plan are tools the board and staff can use to monitor the plan’s progress and benchmarks for success.

About Frank Abdale

Frank has facilitated, led and participated in numerous strategic planning projects for the past 20 years as a consultant, executive director and board member. Frank is a proven strategist and a facilitator known for his ability to design meaningful agendas, draw out the best thinking of all participants and keep meetings and planning processes on time, on track and on budget. He is a BoardSource™ Certified Governance Trainer and a Senior Associate Consultant with the Support Center for Nonprofit Management, where he conducts trainings on strategic planning.

“Frank – It has been a pleasure working with you [on our strategic plan]. Your articulateness, organization, insights, hard work and interpersonal skills made the process both productive and pleasurable. You clearly care deeply about your work and about us, which came through at all times.” – Goddard Riverside Planning Committee Chair