"Failing to plan is planning to fail."
We have all heard this adage before.
Yet its timeless wisdom is crucially relevant to successful nonprofit leadership.
According to a recent Concord Leadership Group study, nearly half of all nonprofits are operating "without any knowledge of or access to a strategic plan."
This is hardly a recipe for nonprofit success.
"The stakes are high," says Marc Pitman, fundraising coach and CEO of The Concord Leadership Group.
"Nonprofits manage the third largest workforce in the United States [and they control] more than $3 trillion in assets. They conserve land, protect oceans, and care for animals. They provide healthcare, mental counseling, and drug rehabilitation. They are a safety net to millions, providing food, housing, and career counseling. "
Given that the nonprofit sector represents such a large chunk of the economy, you would think that the CEOs, directors, and board members of nonprofits would insist on a strategic plan to ensure longterm viability.
Alas, such is not always the case.
Why it pays to plan
It makes sense that having a strategic plan in place would be helpful, right? But many nonprofits often overlook the flip side: not having a strategic plan hurts nonprofits.
For instance, the study showed that nonprofits without written strategic plans were significantly less likely to:
- collaborate with other nonprofits
- have boards open to taking calculated risks
- have CEOs who undergo annual performance reviews
- have formal process for measuring leadership effectiveness
What is even more surprising than learning about the downsides to not having a strategic plan in place is finding out just how widespread the problem is.
Over a quarter of nonprofits surveyed (29%) admitted to not having a strategic plan whatsoever. Nearly as many (19%) claimed to have a plan… just not a written one. (And an additional 4% of respondents to the survey did not even know whether their nonprofit had one at all!)
Check out the infographic below for more stunning statistics: