Successful grant applications begin with a solid foundation in planning. A Strategic plan is the road map for your organization and helps balance daily as well as long term goals. Your plan will provide the guidance needed to identify available funding opportunities that align with your organization’s goals. So, where do you begin? AES Grant Administrator, Paul DeDominicas, shares tips for successful strategic planning.
What is a strategic plan (SP)?
The SP outlines where your organization wants to go. The plan includes your mission, vision and values with action items in place to move towards those goals. Many organizations use a SWOT analysis to develop a strong strategic plan. A SWOT analysis examines the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats with respect to your organization.
Are you ready to begin the strategic planning process?
The NYS Comptroller offers the following checklist to assess if your organization is ready to begin SP. Ensuring that your organization is ready to plan will lead to a much more successful endeavor.
- Is there executive level support?
- Are we operating at a crisis level?
- Is there department level support?
- Who should be involved?
- Do we have the resources in place to create a solid plan?
- Are we ready to involve the public?
Strategic Planning and crisis management should not occur at the same time.
Attempting to plan during a crisis may increase the challenges your organization faces. Crisis management is the way an organization deals with an unexpected issue that arises within the organization while Strategic Planning is thoughtful reflection about the future of the organization.
It is vital to understand the difference between goals, objectives and outcomes.
The strategic plan allows an organization to take stock of the current situation, set the future direction and measure success. Four important questions to ask during your strategic planning process:
- Where are we currently?
- Where do we want to be in the future?
- How do we get there?
- How do we gauge success?
Who should be on your strategic planning team?
A SP team sets the framework for the entire process and is developed based on the size of the organization. The team should be created with engaged internal and external stakeholders such as the Chief Executive Officer and/or Legislative Body, key department heads, the financial officer along with customers, vendors, and in the case of municipal planning, taxpayers. Building a cohesive team will aid in the creation of a successful plan.
With a strategic plan in place, you now have the framework needed to begin seeking grant funding for your project. A solid grant proposal, grounded in a well thought-out strategic plan has a much better chance at success. The plan anchors the grant application in measurable outcomes that align with the vision of the organization.