shutterstock white guy collared shirt laptop2It’s shocking. 49% of nonprofits are operating without a strategic plan, according to research from the Concord Leadership Group. Further, among those NPOs that have plans, 62% admit that their plans do not include any sustainable fundraising strategies.

Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

From my experience, I can tell you that NPOs who have strategic plans deliver far better results than those without them.

So what should you do?

Obviously, you and your team should develop a plan, if you don’t have one. Your plan doesn’t have to be a long document. Google once had a policy that a plan can’t be longer than one page. I’m not sure if that’s still the case at Google, but the point is: plans don’t have to be verbose to be effective.

If your team doesn’t have experience developing effective plans, contact someone who can help. We—and many agencies—have seasoned professionals on staff who can assist with the process.

If you want to develop your plan internally, here are a few quick suggestions:

1. Put it on paper. Have your senior management team pull together their existing goals, strategies, and key tactics for the year. Note: some smart executives, even at large nonprofits, may not have done this — and this simple step will assuredly yield positive results.

2. Share your plans. Your key executives should share their individual plans with one another and get together to discuss how to make sure they are all in sync.

3. Benchmark the plans against your vision. Ideally your team’s plans are aligned with your organization’s vision and mission. Often times, vision and mission statements are antiquated or ignored, but if they’re relevant and smart, they can help clarify the strategic direction for virtually every person in your organization. If your vision or mission are misaligned with your organization’s current priorities or direction, either examine your priorities or look to update your vision and mission statements at some point soon.

4. Ensure that your plans are aligned with your economic realities. Obviously, all plans must be contrasted against historical performance, trend data, current cost structures, etc. Usually, Finance committees and CFOs are pretty good at ensuring this happens, but if this hasn’t happened yet at your organization, you should fix it.

5. Adjust your plans. Armed with your team’s priorities, and benchmarked against your vision, mission, and financial realities, you can finalize your plans in a manner that makes good strategic sense and can be used to quantify your year-end success.

Lastly, let me say that if your organization soon becomes one of the 51% that has a strategic plan, I can assure you, you’ll be 100% better off.

Don McKenzie is President & Chief Growth Officer of Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. Contact us at; subscribe to our newsletter here; and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.