As summer winds up, my thoughts tend to look back over the season to review where I have been and what I have done. The inevitable next step is to look forward to where I will go and what I will do. Nonprofit organizations do this (or should) on a regular basis, whether formally or informally. Sometimes it is included in a facilitated strategic planning session and sometimes it is just a discussion including management and board. The actual approach depends on the organization – where it is in its lifecycle and the environment in which it operates. Whether big or small, formal or informal, a successful evaluation and planning process will include these basic elements –
- An assessment of where the organization has been and what it has done – In order to determine where you are going, it is important to acknowledge where you have been. How has the organization evolved, what challenges has it encountered, and very importantly, what has been accomplished?
- A determination of where the organization is going and what it will do – In order to successfully move forward, there should be a consensus as to the direction of the organization. Will it continue on the path it is currently on, will it grow or will it contract? What is the vision?
- A plan to accomplish the new or revised goals – The plan should include specific steps, assign accountability, and benchmarks to measure accomplishments.
There are many good approaches to this process. However, regardless of the size, style or situation of the organization, a regular and honest review of where the organization has been and done and where it is going and will do is a necessary step.