Published on

1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide


  1. 1. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Planning 1. Getting Ready to Plan 2. Strategic Planning 3. Operational Planning 4. Understanding Impact 5. Checklist 6. Links and Resources The non-profit landscape has abundant current literature on both operational and long term planning. This chapter is limited to a brief summary of the topic and a survey of current links to useful resources. 1. Getting Ready to Plan Two of the most critical foundations for planning are: • Leadership • A culture that learns and accepts change It will be important before you even start to plan, for the ED to set the planning process in context and provide strong leadership and vision. It is also important that you assess the culture of the organization and understand where your challenges might lie. You may also need to develop shared values and norms of behaviour before you start. Planning Readiness Checklist Use these questions to assess the agency’s readiness for planning:  Is the leadership (executive director, board chair, department heads) committed to planning?  Has sufficient time been set aside for planning and consultation across the organization?  Have adequate human and financial resources been committed?  Is the needed information available?  Is everyone aware that this is a long term commitment? How long will it take?  Are there major issues which could block the planning process?  Should a consultant be used for all or part of the process? Page 1 of 17
  2. 2. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Principles for Planning In order for you to set solid plans in place the following guides will be useful: • Participation in the planning process significantly increases commitment to the final product. • The leadership of the organization must demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the plan in a consistent and visible manner. • If an activity is to be acted upon, it must have a “champion”, someone who is committed to seeing the activity implemented. • The plan must be consistent with the values of the organization and the individuals of the organization. Commitment is based upon consistency of values. • The plan must provide challenging, responsible assignments delegated with sufficient authority to permit independent work and accomplishment. • Some action to achieve the mission, vision and strategic goals should begin before planning is formally completed, to generate momentum for implementation. Describing your values Agencies may expand upon or amplify the core values that are shared among Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across Canada. Understanding the agency’s values is a crucial step before you embark on a planning process. Values are principles, standards or qualities which are the core beliefs and convictions. They describe what an organization stands for. Values are moral and ethical priorities that serve to guide all activities. Values help an agency maintain its integrity. They can also be used to resolve issues and differences of opinion as planning progresses. Checklist for Putting Values into Action oDoes your organization have clearly stated values? If so, what are they? oDo the people in your agency know and understand these values? oHow are these values communicated within your agency? oHow do these values affect day to day operations? oDo the leaders model these values on a consistent and regular basis? oAre the values reinforced? Rewarded? If so, how? Page 2 of 17
  3. 3. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Choosing a planning process that is right for you, right now Strategic planning is not a panacea in all situations. Taking a strategic approach is appropriate when you have time and when you are ready to focus on the long term. There may be times when you need to take a more short term perspective. This chapter includes information at a strategic level, at an operational level and then finally at a project level. Depending on what you need to accomplish, jump into the planning process where it best suits you given your needs. Linking your Plan to the National Strategy In the Introduction to this Guide, Chapter 1, there is a brief description of the National Strategy to serve more children. This plan was unanimously approved by all BBBS agencies at the 2004 National Convention. Every agency therefore has a role to play in bringing this plan to fruition. Each agency will need to determine through its own strategic, operational and project planning process just what growth targets are reasonable in its community. As each agency embarks on its own planning process, it will be important to ensure that all board members and staff are well- acquainted with the national strategy such that it can be used to guide local planning. 2. Strategic Planning What is “Strategy” "Strategy ……  Is a comprehensive set of decisions that guides an agency into the future;  Describes a clear organizational purpose, long-term objectives, resource allocation priorities, and fund raising requirements;  Identifies opportunities and threats in the agency’s environment, and the strengths and weaknesses of the organization;  Is aimed at developing and nurturing the core competencies of the agency. So, strategic planning is a critical process for any agency that needs to rethink what it wants to achieve, how it wants to achieve this, and what the required resources might be. As a rule of thumb, agencies commit to a process of strategic planning about once every three (3) years. It can be time-consuming and requires a commitment of energy and resources. Crisis or Control? A problem among many organizations is that they are often locked in a cycle of solving day to day crises. They often fail to develop the capabilities to look ahead. Strategic planning requires Page 3 of 17
  4. 4. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide an organization to think three to five years ahead and to plan accordingly. Some Example Strategies Sometimes, it is helpful to see a clear picture of what an emerging strategy can look like in the context of the Big Brothers Big Sisters movement. Four examples of strategies are described below. These are not mutually exclusive: they might all be included in a single comprehensive plan. These are a selection among a wide range of possible strategies and are explored here simply to help Executive Directors understand the power of strategy development. A. Strengthen Internal Capacities This strategy focuses on building the internal competencies and capacities of the organization, its leaders, managers, staff, and volunteers. It is about paying attention to the basics. It helps an agency influence its internal efficiency in serving children and working with volunteers. Continuous attention is paid to four specific components of organizational health, excellence, and sustainability: • Recruiting and retaining experienced, knowledgeable, diverse, and creative leaders, managers, staff, and volunteers and building effective internal teams and relationships • Creating and implementing concrete and realistic plans for the future • Building strong internal systems, policies, and procedures as a basic safety net • Reviewing and fully understanding internal systems and processes that may impact how efficiently the agency operates. B. Diversify Program and Revenues This strategy focuses on diversifying the organization, its programs, people, and revenues; and, on building an entrepreneurial spirit. The goal is to strengthen organizational resiliency and robustness. The underlying belief is that diverse non-profit organizations are: • Less vulnerable to the changing priorities of donors and volunteers • More capable of providing clients and communities with easier access to the programs and resources they need and want, and responding to community change and new opportunities. This strategy has its own challenges. The conundrum is: “Do we remain small and focused (a niche organization) or do we grow in size and diversity?” Perhaps the biggest challenge is that there is rarely a middle ground. Increasing diversity (and growth, the next strategy) brings more complex and time consuming governance and management issues. C. Grow Larger Page 4 of 17
  5. 5. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide This strategy focuses on building the competencies, capacities and diversity of an organization through growth. The goal is to ensure that the organization can acquire the necessary skills and competencies to manage its programs resources, and changing environments. The underlying belief is that larger non-profit organizations are more capable of: • Constructively influencing their communities and donors • Recruiting wise and skilled board members; and, affording and acquiring a diverse senior management team • Offering wide ranging supports, learning opportunities, and career development possibilities for volunteers and staff • Achieving economies of scale. D. Collaborate and Partner This strategy focuses on building positive and synergistic relationships with other similar organizations, both locally and regionally. The goal is to expand programs and resources for clients and communities, and to strengthen each organization through sharing in the collective pool of skills, ideas, competencies, knowledge, relationships, and reputations of the partners. The underlying belief is that partnering non-profit organizations are able to: • Provide expanded, higher quality, and a more seamless array of programs and resources to clients and communities • Leverage more resources through collaborative efforts • Present a combined front to donors and other potential supporters. Why is “strategy” important? When you think about your agency in the long-term, chances are you think primarily about raising enough funding to keep going. But, sustaining the valuable programs that we offer to children and increasing them where we can is about more than money. It is about all those things that allow your agency to endure and maintain excellent services over time: credibility, people, ideas, markets, risk management, collaborative relationships, and funds. A strategic plan should present information on all major aspects of your agency: the pieces are inter-connected like a jigsaw. It is much easier to get a new program started than it is to make sure it is sustainable over the longer term. It is also easier in the short term to go where the funding takes you. And yet, over time, this approach will almost certainly take you away from your mission and core competence. The sustainability of non-profit organizations and their services has emerged as a growing concern for Canadians. Non-profit organizations now operate in a much more complex environment where we see: • Declining revenues from traditional sources such as governments, foundations, and the United Way • Increasing competition for donors and community funds Page 5 of 17
  6. 6. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide • A donor focus on short-term, project based funding • Shorter funding cycles and usually more donors to report to • Increasing costs and demands for services • Changing provincial legislation and regulations such as those regarding employee standards, privacy protection, and health and safety issues • Demanding reporting requirements. Accountability expectations are expanding and changing to outcome-based approaches • Insurance coverage is more difficult to find, and risk management requires more resources • Trends in the labour market, demographics and ethnic/cultural mix of Canadian society have significant implications for how social services agencies can best fulfill their missions and be sustainable. We need a planning process that ensures we Entry take full stock of the environment we work in. Point From this process we need to produce a plan Vision that determines what we believe we can do over time, and describes how this is going to happen. The Strategic Planning Process Mission The diagram below outlines the essential steps that are generally recognized in a strategic planning process. Most traditional strategic planning texts present the planning process as Internal Entry External Scan linear. In fact, it is not. At each stage of your Point Scan planning, you will need to go back and check that the new knowledge you have gained and the decisions you have made do not affect assumptions you made earlier on. You may even need to take a time out and do some Strategic additional research before you feel ready to goals make decisions. Good research leads to wise decisions. You can enter the planning process at any Operat- Entry stage. Some organizations start at a strategic ional Point level. For others, it makes more sense to work Planning at the operational or program level. It is important that each agency chooses a process that best fits their stage of development and their current priorities. Project Entry Planning Point Page 6 of 17
  7. 7. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Your Vision Statement A vision statement describes what your “world” will look like if you achieve your mission. It… • Is an over-arching goal • Drives the organization in to the future • Excites the imagination • Challenges the organization to strive for something • A vivid description of what the organization (and its services/clients/partners) will be like when its mission is truly fulfilled. Creating a vision can be the most important team-building exercise ever undertaken by an organization. It is pro-active and positive. The power of a shared vision is enormous because it provides direction, and releases and focuses energy towards a common direction. Your vision is a future state towards which you are striving. Your Mission Statement A mission statement is essential to you as you decide whether new programs should be part of your services, in developing partnerships with other organizations, in describing your agency to donors etc. The most dangerous things an agency can do is stray from its mission and become too dispersed – this can directly undermine agency sustainability and relevance. Your mission is one of your most important guides. It must… • Describe the core purpose of your agency; • Describe the contribution your agency makes to society and basic human needs; • Establish a reason for being for your agency; • Describe the functions of your agency. A Strong External Scan To be able to work towards your vision in a concrete way, it will be important to understand your community, provincial and national environment. What are the issues and trends that affect children in your community? What are the implications of these for your agency and its programs? An external scan will help you to understand the environment in which you work and the issues that might affect you: your strategies will therefore be more focused and relevant. Tools to support you in developing an external scan have been developed – see references at the end of this chapter. Page 7 of 17
  8. 8. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Knowing Your Agency – Your Internal Scan A solid and comprehensive understanding of how your agency operates and how it is structured will make decision-making much more clear and straight-forward. It will be important to develop a clear picture of where you are at the moment, especially if your strategic plan includes growth. This understanding needs to happen at a range of levels, for example: • Program performance • Board • Organizational structure • Work flow • Fundraising Agency benchmarks are critical tools to use in the process or organizational assessment. This Guide contains a complete chapter on this topic: see Appendix A, Performance Management. Setting Broad Strategic Goals Your most important strategic goal will address the issue of how many children you want to serve, by when. If you have chosen a growth strategy, this will also determine a rate of growth. Your supporting strategic goals will describe in detail what major areas of work the agency will take on to achieve this. Given what we know about sustainability and growth among Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies, and given the national strategic plan, major areas of focus will be: • Skill development among staff and board members • Program delivery • Sustainable funding • Efficiency and effectiveness in organizational structures and processes • Community engagement and connection. Is Strategic Planning right for you? Strategic planning has some tremendous benefits. Its helps you to think long term. It provides a coherent framework for all agency activity. It can be used as a tool to bring together agency staff and board members around a common direction. It can also educate the entire organization about how the operation works. At the same time, there are challenges to think about before you embark on strategic planning. It takes time, energy and resources. It requires strong leadership. Some of the issues and discussions that you embark upon may be contentious and lead to strong differences of opinion. So, if you choose to embark on a strategic process, you must do so purposefully, with a Page 8 of 17
  9. 9. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide readiness to learn, and a willingness to adapt as experience dictates. You may also decide that it would be better to embark on operational planning (more detailed, shorter term) as a more appropriate process at any point in time. Choosing the process that is right for your agency at this point in time is most critical. A few tips • A successful strategic planning process needs to be championed. You need to ensure that the process is realistic, fits your needs AND that everyone has the information they need to make decisions. • The planning process should never become more important than the planned results. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies exist to fulfill a mission, not to fuss eternally over plans. Keep the process as simple as possible and don’t get caught up in paperwork and bureaucracy. At its simplest, strategic planning involves these steps:  Spend as much time as you need to, learning together and understanding both your community and what makes your agency tick. Solid information that is commonly shared throughout your organization will make decision-making so much easier and will make your decisions more valid.  Reach out as much as you can to other agencies and the National office. Their knowledge, their skills and their experience in establishing their own strategic direction can all have a great deal of relevance for you. Who Should be Involved? All boards and executive directors must work together to plan for the future of their agency. Strategic planning is the process by which an organization envisions its future and develops the necessary procedures and operations to achieve that future. It is foundational to any non-profit agency’s service delivery and is the key driver for assuring the relevance of services and establishing benchmarks for measuring agency performance. Strategic planning can also involve all the key stakeholders in the organization: board, executive director, staff and key volunteer groups. Everyone can make a contribution and become a part of the action. This can improve morale and empower people, since more stakeholders are informed about the agency and what it does. Hiring a consultant Many agencies hire external support to assist in their strategic planning. There is benefit in doing so because it allows everyone, staff and board, to participate. It also allows you to bring in external expertise on the process of planning. However, it is important that you continue to guide the consultant in a direction that is appropriate to you. It is also important that you do much of the research and data collection in-house so that you, your board and your staff learn as you go. Page 9 of 17
  10. 10. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide 3. Operational Planning A strategic direction forms the basis of your more detailed agency planning. Operational plans (which are usually annual plans) describe just how the strategic direction is to be achieved. It describes the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW. Sometimes, the development of an operational plan can influence strategy as well – if an operational plan suggests that strategic goals are unrealistic, it may be necessary to return to the larger strategy before continuing. Operational planning ensures that everyone knows what needs to get done, coordinates their efforts when getting it done, and keeps close track of whether and how it got done. In order to do this, the plan needs an appropriate level of detail; enough to guide the work, but not too much so it overwhelms or unnecessarily constrains creativity. The format should allow for periodic reports on progress towards the specific goals and objectives. To be successful in developing a comprehensive operational plan that moves all parts of an agency forward together, it is important to work from a framework that reflects how the inter- connected parts of an agency fit together. Elements of the Plan An operational plan articulates an intended course of action at a very practical level so staff, board members and other stakeholders critical to its implementation are clear. For each strategic goal identified, a more detailed action plan is needed. If a strategic direction has not been set, operational planning needs to at least take into account the following broad themes that are relevant for all BBBS agencies: • Skill development in staff and board members • Program delivery • Sustainable funding • Efficiency and effectiveness in organizational structures and processes • Community engagement and connection. An operational plan needs, at the very least, to address the following elements: 1. The Organization o What is the current structure of the agency: program delivery, fund development, management and leadership (at both staff and board levels)? o How will the organization need to change to meet the plan? o How will this be done? 2. Programs & Services o Which programs will the agency offer, when and how many children will be served in each program by year? o In which geographic areas of the agency’s service delivery area will programs Page 10 of 17
  11. 11. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide be delivered OR in which schools? o How will each program work with similar services and other organizations in the community? o How will volunteers be recruited to be able to meet the service targets? 3. Human Resources o What possible changes in the way that matches are processed are possible to ensure efficient use of available resources? o What staff resources will be needed to implement the planned programs? o If new staff are required, outline when will they be recruited and which positions need to be filled (front line program delivery, fundraising, administration, management etc.)? o What training will staff require to be able to meet the demands of the operational plan? When will the training be offered? 4. Fund Development o What are your funding projections for the coming three years (given anticipated service delivery levels)? o How are funds currently raised? o How much additional funding needs to be raised each year to meet service delivery targets? o What specific fund development initiatives will be used to do this in the short and longer term? What would be the projections for each initiative? How exactly will each be implemented? Note: an operational plan should also include past budget and cash flow projections (for at least two years) for reference. 5. Facilities & Equipment o What new facilities, equipment, etc. will be needed in the next three years and when will they be needed? 6. Building Influence o What partnerships and connections does the agency currently have that are fundamental to it work? o What agencies or institutions need to be partnered with to implement the plan? o How will these relationships be developed and nurtured? 7. Risks o What potential risks does the agency face in implementing the plan and how they will be managed (see the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada’s Risk Handbook, 2006). Page 11 of 17
  12. 12. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Page 12 of 17
  13. 13. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Developing your Operational Plan As each area of the organization is considered in more detail, there will be an increasing realization how interconnected it all is - that as one area develops it may change another area completely. For example, looking at the program staffing needs of an ideal program may bring up numerous obstacles that hadn't been considered. After reviewing those new obstacles with your planning team, you may find the program doesn't make as much sense as it did before you had all the facts. You may even need to go back and revise your strategic goals. An effective plan will allow for adjustments as the organization continues to learn. Likely, at this point the organization has enough information and won’t need a great deal of outside input. However, if in doubt, don't guess - ask. The more accurate your information, the more accurate eventual cost projections will be. When the plan is written and everyone is satisfied that it makes sense – that there is a definable need for each program and service of the Agency; that obstacles are all addressed with a plan for overcoming them; that funding is possible; that there is no potential duplication of effort; etc. - then you will be able to answer that big picture question: Will this organization accomplish what we wanted it to accomplish? 4. Understanding Impact We have an obligation  to ourselves, to staff, to board members, to donors, to our communities, and to the families we serve  to clearly report how well the agency has done in serving children. Have our programs really had the impact that we promised they would? Performance Measurement This Guide includes a full chapter (Appendix A, Performance Management) on performance measurement. It clearly identifies some key performance measures for Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies and approaches for collecting this information. Incorporating performance measurement into the life of your agency will allow staff and board members to talk in an informed way about the immediate and longer term outputs and impacts of mentoring work. Evaluation Evaluation is a critical stage in the planning and implementation process that enables us to: • Explain why certain results have happened • Understand whether targets set were appropriate/realistic and whether they have been achieved • Describe successes and weaknesses so that these can be used to plan for the future • Build a database of information that can be used for future planning, to apply for funds, to approach potential partners. Page 13 of 17
  14. 14. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Measures of Mentoring Based on work by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, we can identify some important long term outcome or impact areas related to mentoring. These measures can be used in either a performance measurement or an evaluation process. Most importantly, agencies need to start integrating information about these measures into their data capture and analysis systems so that we are able to report on them internally, to donors and to policy makers. Outcome measures of mentoring: • The role of mentoring in increasing the confidence of children o Improved future outlook o Improved decision-making o Improved ability to express feelings o Increased community involvement • The role of mentoring in increasing children’s self-confidence o Improved attitude towards school o Reduced school absenteeism o Improved school performance o Reduced substance abuse • The role of mentoring in improving a child’s caring o Improved relationships with family o Improved relationships with friends and peers o Improved relationships with other adults Page 14 of 17
  15. 15. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide 4. Checklist Strategic Planning  Our agency has completed assessment of community needs and trends Our vision statement is clear, specific and realistic Our mission statement is realistic, attainable and easy-to-understand Our goals, objectives, and timelines have been thoroughly thought out and documented Agency leaders (executive director, board chair, department heads) demonstrate a strong commitment to planning The values of our agency are reflected in the day to day operations. Leaders model these values on a consistent and regular basis Our strategic plan is linked to and supported by a fundraising plan that clearly describes how program targets will be achieved Operational Planning Our agency planning process includes a review of existing operations and incorporates improvements and/or changes as needed Our operational plan is written in plain language and at a practical level so staff, board members and other stakeholders are clear on their roles and responsibilities Each component of the plan is mapped out on a calendar, assigned to someone and is linked to a budget Progress updates take place regularly for each area of the plan to make sure targets are being met The plan helps the board and staff to make proactive rather than reactive decisions New and emerging programs have been carefully assessed for their feasibility. A project plan for each program area is integrated into our operational plan and reflected in our budget and fundraising targets. Our operational plan has a performance measurement system attached to it, allowing our agency to assess individual staff performance and map our impact over time We have considered issues related to evaluation and planned for it at key points in the implementation of our plan A communications and building influence plan has been developed to support our agency’s strategic and operational plans Page 15 of 17
  16. 16. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide 5. Links and Resources Websites For program outcomes see the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada website: Mentoring Excellence BC, an Initiative focused on supporting the sustainability and capacity of BBBS agencies, has developed resources that specifically support agency planning. Specifically, the Initiative has produced an “Agency benchmarking Tool” and an “External Scan” framework and worksheet at: United Way of Canada - Centraide Canada hosts a comprehensive Board Development site, with information, resources, tools and checklists pertaining to Board Governance, Roles and Responsibility and Board Operations. The Strategic Planning section of Board Development contains principles for planning and an outline of the strategic planning process. It can be accessed at: The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs publishes a series of fact sheets to support community and organizational development. Strategic Planning and Strategic Planning…Is It For You? are available for order or for free download from this web link: The Learner Resource Centre, a service of The University of Wisconsin Extension, publishes an on-line Strategic Planning Manual that walks through a strategic planning process from start to finish and includes several worksheets that can be adapted for your organization’s use. Access the PDF format at: or the Microsoft Word version at: The Board Development Program of Alberta Community Development publishes newsletters on a variety of board-related issues, including Strategic Planning and Governance, which can be downloaded from this web link: ources/newsletters/index.asp Alberta Community Development can provide consultant/facilitation services to not-for-profit organizations in Alberta to assist with strategic planning, visioning, and goal setting, as well as board development. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies websites – scan the national, regional and Agency sites to get an idea how other agencies across the country are organized and what programs they implement. The national site has links to all agencies The Free Management Library, hosted by the Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits in St. Paul, MN provides comprehensive information, tools and resources that will assist your organization to move through all the stages of strategic planning. It can be accessed from: Page 16 of 17
  17. 17. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Executive Director Resource Guide Building Sustainable Non-profits, Centre for Research and Education in Human Services & Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries, page 78 (actual document), For more information on program evaluation and writing an evaluation report, review pages 78 – 83 of Building Sustainable Non-profits, Centre for Research and Education in Human Services & Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries, Print Resources Barry, Bryan W. Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations. St. Paul, MN: The Amherst Wilder Foundation, 2001. Bryson, John M. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995. Bryson, John M. and Farnum K. Alston. Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan: A Workbook for Public and Nonprofit Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996. LAMP Consultants to Non-Profits. Nine Steps to Strategic Planning for Non-Profit Organizations: A Workbook. Kitchener, Ontario: LAMP Consultants to Non-Profits, 1990. LeClair, Christopher. The Guide to Strategic Planning for Directors of Non-Profit Organizations. Toronto: Canadian Society of Association Executives, 2001. Mintzberg, Henry. The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning. Prentice Hall International: 1994. Page 17 of 17