Strategic Planning for NGOs

March 2023

Whether you’re an experienced project manager or a homeowner managing a budget, we all know the importance of having a plan in place. The key to business success is a dependable plan and strong execution. But how exactly can NGOs get started with strategic planning?

A strategic plan is an essential part of success for any business, including NGOs. Strategic plans are used to set priorities and goals for the business, organise resources and budgets, strengthen operations and processes, and establish a clear pathway to success. When executed correctly, a strategic plan will deliver several benefits for NGOs, including:

A strategic plan allows a company to map out who they are as an organisation. 

An NGO’s strategic plan can help them to define what they want to focus on, what they want to achieve, and their short-term and long-term goals as an organisation.

Through strategic plans, NGOs can manage their resources and budgets more efficiently. Clearly defining their company’s goals and priorities will help an NGO to map out its resources, and streamline efforts to save money and time in the long run. 
With clearer visions, more efficient processes, and realistic expectations, companies can expect improved results to come from having a strategic plan in place. 
The strategic planning process for NGOs involves a number of stages, where each part of the plan is created and implemented. 
The first stage of crafting a strategic plan is analysing the business’s current state of affairs. A helpful tool for doing this is conducting a SWOT analysis on the NGO. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and is a way of evaluating where a business stands in its market. Every department of the business should be audited, as well as analysis of the industry and any of the NGO’s competitors.
Once the background analysis has taken place, the next step is for the NGO to define its goals. Focusing on the NGO’s priorities, its core values, and what it is likely to achieve. 
After all the analysis is done, it’s time to put the plan into action. At the implementation stage, NGO leaders should look at where to allocate time, money and resources to achieve their goals. 
No matter how perfect a plan may seem, once it is put into action, there will be some inevitable issues that crop up along the way. It’s important for an NGO to regularly recap and reflect on the progress of its strategic plan. 

A common mistake that many NGOs make is creating a strategic plan that is far too complex. The best strategic plans have a few common elements, with each section clearly defined and easily understood.

Strategic plans differ from business to business, but if your NGO is just starting out, here are some sections that would be helpful to include.

An NGO’s mission statement defines its purpose for the world. It is usually between one and three sentences and includes its industry, the products or services that it provides, and what makes it different from its competitors. 
A strategic plan should include long-term and short-term goals, and how these relate to the NGO’s overall objective and vision for the future. These goals should be concise and actionable. A vague goal, such as “increase brand awareness”, will not be as impactful as something more specific, like “create an Instagram strategy to increase followers by 20%”.
This section of the strategic plan should include step-by-step strategies to achieve each goal, including the people responsible, the resources needed, and a timeline.  
KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are the measurable factors used to evaluate whether a business or its employees have been successful in reaching their goals. For example, if an employee is tasked with creating a digital marketing campaign, their KPIs may include the number of new users to their website. 
The final section of a strategic plan should review how the NGO’s performance will be evaluated as the plan progresses. It should map out how often an evaluation will take place, and who should be involved in any changes to the plan in the future. 
Does your business employ workers internationally? Find out more about our international health insurance plans for NGOs online.