Nonprofit Planning Guide

capacity building management strategic management May 25, 2021
Nonprofit Planning Guide

Nonprofit planning helps nonprofits adjust services and programs to manage change and crisis. Often, these adaptations require senior management to create make-shift plans. However, when organizations have already engaged in scenario planning, the transition into modifying and implementing contingency plans is much more fluid. 

The following, are various types of nonprofit planning that nonprofits should engage in the following steps: 

  • Strategic planning,
  • Fundraising/ development,
  • Risk management planning,
  • Operational planning,
  • Crisis prevention and management planning,
  • Active shooter planning and response,
  • Emergency preparedness planning and response, and
  • Facilities master planning.

Types of Nonprofit Planning:

The following will help nonprofits remain steady during periods of crisis or while managing changing times:

  • Strategic planning is essential in making sure the work of the organization is aligned with the mission and vision of the organization.  
  • Fundraising/ development planning: The fundraising plan identifies various revenue-generating strategies that will fund the operationalization of the strategic plan. 
  • Risk management planning: This helps to identify various types of risk that could negatively impact the organization’s ability to function, offset financial losses, protect employees, and safeguard clients. Ensuring adequate insurance coverage (e.g., directors & officers, executive director, general liability/property & casualty, professional liability, worker’s compensation, fraud insurance, travel insurance, event insurance, etc.) is one component, but risk assessment should extend out to include all components of the organization, including programs, administrative components, operations, governance, financial risk, and external risks.
  • Operational Planning: An operations plan should, of course, be aligned with the strategic plan, but it is important to remember that these are two different processes. A strategic plan creates a map for achieving the organization’s long-term vision. An operations plan involves the process of deciding what needs to be done to achieve the annual objectives of the organization in the following areas:
    • Governance,
    • Administration, 
    • Human resources,
    • Programs,
    • Technology,
    • Compliance, and
    • Budget and financial reporting. 
  • Crisis prevention and management planning: This is more applicable to nonprofits that offer behavioral and mental health services. Usually, crisis prevention and management planning are driven by case managers. Nonetheless, all staff members should be trained to know what they are supposed to do in cases where clients or patients are engaging in explosive behavior, threatening others, displaying physical aggression, and indicating they are going to harm themselves or others. The policies and procedures should also outline what to do during a lockdown, whom to call when to call an ambulance, and the police. 
  • Active shooter planning and response: The plan should include information and procedures on how to evacuate, hide out, and defend against an active shooter when in imminent danger, the contact information of emergency numbers, the roles and responsibilities of different individuals during this time, recognizing workplace violence, and action steps post active shooter.
  • Emergency preparedness planning and response: This plan describes the policies, procedures, and steps you take to make sure you are safe before, during, and after an emergency or natural disaster. This includes but is not limited to natural disasters (e.g., floods, blizzards, tornadoes, and earthquakes) and man-made disasters (e.g., explosions, fires, chemical and biological attacks). These plans should be based on a risk assessment of potential scenarios. Strategies for protecting employees, visitors, contractors, and anyone else in the facility should be outlined. The plan should include strategies for evacuation, sheltering, shelter-in-place, and lockdown. The plan should also inform staff on how warnings, notifications, and communications will be managed. The roles and responsibilities during an emergency should also be clearly delineated.  
  • Facilities Master Planning: A facilities master plan describes an organization’s facilities along with their purpose and plans for the future. It also outlines how the facilities will be utilized and maintained. In order for the plan to be effective it should also be aligned with both the fundraising and strategic plan.

It is better if this type of nonprofit planning can be undertaken by a consultant. However, in the event that the budget does not permit this type of planning professionals, nonprofit managers, and board members should become familiar with best practices. The final plans, though, if they are not facilitated by professionals, should undergo a review and cross-reference by professionals and legal experts.

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If you would like to schedule a pro-bono nonprofit session with me to facilitate the transition for remote workers, please email [email protected] with the heading “COVID-19 #Pro-bono.” I will be happy to help you during this very difficult time.


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