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The Measure of an Effective Strategic (and Financial) Plan

Strategic plans are essential for your organization’s growth, but they spend their five-to-seven-year lifespans living on a shelf, if they exist at all.

Bearing that in mind, we're sharing a few questions that you should ask about your strategic plan, but first: Do you have a strategic plan? If so, when’s the last time you looked at it?

Painting of trees in fall

A strategic plan plots a course for your organization’s long-term growth and goals, but with so much going on day-to-day, it can be easy to get lost in the tyranny of the urgent. However, with an effective strategic plan (and regular check-ins with that plan), your everyday ministry work can be in service of the intentional expansion of your mission.

Below are a few more questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re getting the most out of your strategic plan: 

Does it include a financial plan?

The parentheses in the headline isn’t an afterthought—attaching the costs associated with your strategic plan is essential in keeping your plan realistic and measured. When assigning the financial cost to your strategy, be sure to consider human resources along with financial allocation.

Is it “on mission?”

Your goals and desired outcomes, as well as the processes themselves, shouldn’t wander outside the realm of your organization's purpose. Serve your mission well by staying accountable to it.

Is it focused on significant growth areas? 

Or is your strategic plan more focused on day-to-day goals? If that’s the case, then what you have is an operational plan—a beneficial document to have, but the operational plan should exist in tandem with a strategic plan. For long-term strategy, determine the two to five impact areas, or “big plays,” you want your organization to pursue, and only two to five. Rather than chasing every idea your team comes up with, drill down and focus in on specific goals. Asking yourself the two other questions above will assist with this as well, keeping your impact areas financially feasible and within your mission’s jurisdiction.


When crafting a truly effective strategic plan, having the outside voice of a third-party can be invaluable to the growth of your organization. At Canaan Group & Associates, we have vast experience in implementing strategic and financial plans with our clients. With our proprietary, customizable template and 120+ years combined experience with nonprofits, we can ensure all of your bases are covered and within a realistic range and timeframe. If you’d like to hear more on how we can assist in your strategic planning process, contact us today.


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