A nonprofit organization cannot solve all the problems experienced by its target population. This is simply impossible. There will always be limitations in the financial resources of a nonprofit organization to provide all the services and programs that would be helpful. Further, an organization must focus on specific activities to be effective and efficient. Therefore, nonprofit organizations must make strategic choices regarding the key areas where they want to make a significant contribution and have a long-lasting impact. The determination of strategic priorities is based on various factors, such as:

- The vision, mission, and values statements

- A prior needs assessment and asset mapping

- A SWOT analysis

- A consensus among the internal and external stakeholders

A list of programmatic areas must be developed in relation to vision and mission statements of an organization. The programmatic priorities must be defined, discussed, and adopted by the majority, based on objective criteria. For example, an organization may decide that the key programmatic areas for the next year will be:

- Early childhood education

- Economic opportunities

- Health

The decision does not stop there. Each programmatic area must be defined in a way that is operationalizable. In other words, the definition must provide implicit outcomes to evaluate. For example, does early childhood education mean starting an early childhood education center that provides direct services or a center that will conduct research on early childhood education? Or does that mean providing support to help low-income children have access to early childhood education programs?


Strategic goals are long-term statements that describe programmatic conditions that an organization or institution wants to accomplish within a certain period of time, usually in 3, 5, 7, or 10 years. Objectives are statements of specific activities or projects that must be accomplished toward the achievement of strategic goals. In other words, objectives are:

- Statements of actions that will enable achieving a goal

- Specific, quantifiable, measurable

- Simple and easy to understand

- Realistic and attainable

For each strategic goal in a strategic plan, there should be at least two or three objectives, whose attainment would accumulate to the achievement of the goal. Box 6.7 outlines some differences between goals and objectives. Box 6.8 provides some examples of strategic goals and objectives.

Box 6.7 Goals and Objectives

Goals Objectives

Short statement reflecting a long-term vision

Longer descriptive statement of action

Involves a broad scope

Involves a narrow scope

Directly relates to the vision and statements

Indirectly relates to the vision and mission


Covers long time period (such as 3, 5, 7, or

Covers short time period (such as a 1-year

10 years)

budget cycle)




Goal 1

Provide technical assistance to individuals in order to assist in their social, cultural, and economic integration into American society.

Objective V. Provide refugees and immigrants of all ethnic backgrounds the consultation, information and referral, translation, and other related technical assistance when needed.

Objective 2: Provide individuals in need with employment-related services. These services include job placement, pre-employment training, employment planning, employment counseling, and other related job-readiness assistance.

Objective 3: Refer and accompany individuals in need of support and social services to the appropriate agencies.

Objective 4: Provide volunteer interpreters for refugees and immigrants who speak languages other than English, so that they can have access to social services when they first arrive in the United States.

Objective 5: Provide, to the degree possible, financial humanitarian assistance to low-income individuals and families as well as emergency relief assistance following natural disasters.

Objective 6: Partner with other organizations to help abused and neglected children.

Goal 2

Assist low-income individuals and entrepreneurs to increase their incomes, create jobs for themselves and their neighbors, raise their living standards, and promote economic growth.

Objective V. Help individuals or groups develop successful businesses.

Objective 2: Provide ongoing technical assistance, training, peer support, and loan assistance to existing small businesses that lack adequate access to business financing.

Objective 3: Assist low-income individuals in finding alternative grants and loans for vocational training.

Goal 3

Offer management assistance to not-for-profit organizations in order to improve their effectiveness.

Objective V. Provide ongoing consulting services to not-for-profit organizations in fund-raising, board development, accounting, marketing, strategic planning, program evaluation, staff development, organizational development, coalition building, etc.

Objective 2: Organize workshops and seminars for the staff of not-for-profit organizations.

Objective 3: Assist not-for-profits in website development and maintenance and management of information systems.

Objective 4: Develop guides and communication materials for not-for-profit organizations.

Goal 4

Empower refugees and immigrants with the skills needed to achieve their highest potential and participate productively and actively in American society.

Objective V. Provide students with individualized tutoring in all required subjects to strengthen the academic areas in which they are deficient.

Objective 2: Develop after-school programs to help students at risk of leaving the school system early to remain in school, improve their performance, and embark on positive careers.

Objective 3: Implement holistic delinquency-prevention programs for target préadolescents at-risk of teenage pregnancy and juvenile delinquency.

Objective 4: Offer parenting education sessions to help parents participate successfully in the behavioral, emotional, social, and cognitive development of their children.

Objective 5: Provide literacy classes, computer-lite racy classes, computer training, English for speakers of other language (ESOL), English as second language (ESL), general education development (GED), and other test-preparation tutoring to individuals in need.

Objective 6: Organize cultural events to promote cultural identity and cultural competency.

Goal 5

Deliver a prevention continuum of health programs to improve the quality of life of underserved children, families, and communities.

Objective 7: Increase parental understanding of, access to, and information about the child-care delivery system, affordable child-care options, and available financial assistance.

Objective 2: Provide information and referral services on reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), health awareness, etc.

Objective 3: Organize workshops on the causes and prevention of HIV/AIDS infection for HOPE clients as well as through community outreach to adult education classes, parent associations, senior citizen centers, and shelters.

Objective 4: Train volunteers to do street outreach by distributing materials about HIV/AIDS and how to prevent infection to beauty and hair salons, businesses, and other community organizations.

Objective 5: Provide social/recreational activities, emergency assistance, and support group and counseling services to individuals living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Objective 6: Publish an HIV/AIDS quarterly report based on official surveillance data made available to the public.

Objective 7: Conduct, in partnership with other organizations, free tuberculosis education and screening for HOPE programs and clients as well as outreach services through churches, community organizations, and schools.

Objective 8: Develop networks both regionally and nationally to address priority areas of health promotion and disease prevention, including driving under the influence (DUI), substance and alcohol abuse, women's health, smoking prevention, and others.

Goal 6

Provide services that are cost-effective, timely, and responsive to the changing needs of children, families, enterprises, organizations, and communities.

Objective 7: Acquire grants and other private sources of funding to maintain a stable annual operating budget that supports the implementation of this strategic plan.

Objective 2: Seek in-kind donations, such as printing, materials and equipment, volunteers, and training, to help support our services and reduce program costs.

Objective 3: Consider alternative approaches for providing services whenever an alternative offers quality services at the levels needed in a more cost-effective manner.

Objective 4: Establish program evaluation and performance measurement standards for our programs to ensure that we meet the needs of our constituencies and provide programs of highest quality.

Objective 5: Develop, implement, and adapt a guideline and portfolio for investment, financing, and asset-management decisions.

Objective 6: Provide our stakeholders with required financial reports, budget comparisons, cash flow projections, audit, and other useful financial information for decision making throughout the organization.

Goal 7

By 2024, HOPE will be recognized as an organizational leader in enhancing overall organizational effectiveness through documentation of stakeholder satisfaction, high productivity, communication, and collaboration with private and public agencies and communities.

Objective V. Develop and integrate data reports that identify service quality and delivery time measures and best practices for internal operations.

Objective 2: Develop a manual of policies and administrative procedures.

Objective 3: Organize applied and quasi experimental research that can create innovative approaches for community programs and social services.

Objective 4: Develop a cultural competency board that is well trained and informed to assist the organization in marketing, fund-raising, legal matters, public relations, and evaluation.

Objective 5: Offer a competitive benefits package to staff and establish a formalized ongoing training program for staff and volunteers.

Objective 6: Develop a communication and collaboration plan to increase community involvement and coordination with private and public agencies and communities.


Strategic management is the process of implementing the strategic plan adopted by an organization or institution. The implementation plan uses a project management approach through the development of specific programs, projects, and activities that will contribute to help achieve specific objectives and goals in the strategic plan. For example, the implementation can include yearly, quarterly, and monthly action plans, including key personnel, tasks, policies, procedures, training, timelines, evaluation strategies, and operational budget.


The strategic plan is the primary document that inspires the financial targets set in an organizational budget. Therefore, strategic planning is directly linked to the long-term financial prospects of a nonprofit organization because the identification of strategic priorities is an integral part of financial planning and financial sustainability. The key strategic or programmatic areas that will be described in the program expenditures section of a budget come from the strategic plan. Some of the approaches or strategies to generate income are usually identified during the strategic-planning process, oftentimes during the SWOT analysis. In fact, the SWOT analysis, as part of the strategic-planning process, can be used as a contribution to the financial sustainability of a nonprofit organization. For example, the strengths can be used to take advantage of opportunities that exist for an organization. If an organization shows evidence of strengths in a particular programmatic area, this organization might use these strengths to

- Seek grant income from identified funding opportunities.

- Customize fund-raising strategies to retain existing donors and attract new donors.

- Seek contracts that can expand the stream of revenue of the organization.

- Develop social enterprise initiatives to leverage internal assets as a means to generate unrestricted funds.

- Develop collaborations with stronger or bigger organizations to transfer some of the potential risks to them and use some of their assets.

Strengths can also be used to neutralize some threats or avoid facing them. For example, an organization may:

- Use the talents and expertise of its board, staff, and volunteers to adopt new policies and procedures that would make potential changes in legislation inconsequential to the activities of such organization.

- Streamline poor-performing programs or projects so that a change in governmental representatives no longer makes the organization a target for unwanted scrutiny.

- Organize special events targeting a base of loyal donors to raise alternative financial resources for a key program that may lose funding if a change occurs in legislation or politics.

In other words, strategic planning provides a framework for identifying and forecasting sources of income, and for decisions about allocating resources. An effective strategic-planning process can lay the groundwork for organizational effectiveness and efficiency, which in turn may positively influence the financial sustainability of a nonprofit organization. Effectiveness means that a nonprofit organization achieves the best possible outcomes through its resources. Efficiency implies that a nonprofit organization makes the best use possible of its resources to obtain critical outcomes.

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