Strategic planning is an exciting opportunity to get the board, staff and other stakeholders together to talk about the incredible work our organization is doing, and where we’re heading next. It’s a time of hope, optimism, and teamwork. Unfortunately, however, strategy work can often be viewed as ‘the thing we have to do but don’t really want to do’. It can be perceived as a long, arduous, potentially tension-fused process with the resulting document gathering dust on a shelf.

How do we ensure the former?

There are so many responsibilities under the purview of the Executive Director/CEO and Board Chair that identifying and developing a strategic planning process can feel overwhelming. How do we create the conditions where everyone feels and stays engaged? How do we ensure the plan stays relevant? How do we create and maintain this living document?

With these questions in mind we’ve gathered 10 resources to help organizations prepare for the strategic planning process. We hope you find them helpful!

1. Johnson Grossnickle & Associates – Preparing for Strategic Planning

Doing the right preparation work before we begin our strategic planning process can help ensure the success of the process. Identifying what a successful process and outcome look like, deciding who is responsible for decision-making, gathering the right data, and other steps can support a positive and productive outcome.

2. TCC Group – Ten Keys to Successful Strategic Planning for Nonprofits and Foundation Leaders

This PDF document is the result of years of strategic planning experience. The authors have been facilitating strategic planning for nonprofits for over 25 years, and they share what the strategic plan is (and isn’t), how to create the best context for the development of the strategic plan, and what a strategic plan must reflect and take into account in order for it to be useful and relevant. It’s a deep dive that’s worth the read!

3. Philanthropy News Digest – Strategic Planning: Five Steps to a More Secure Future

‘Although the ultimate goal of the strategic planning process is to develop a plan, the value of the exercise often lies in the process itself.’ This column shares some tips on how we can ‘plan to plan’; how we can set up the framework for the strategy development process. It lists some very important questions we need to ask ourselves even before we even begin the strategy development process.

4. Nonprofit Pro – 5 Guidelines for a Simplified Nonprofit Strategic Planning Process

Are you leading a very small, grassroots nonprofit? Are you one of few staff members, or even, perhaps, the only staff member at your organization? Then you’ll enjoy this resource! The author shares simplified but effective means to developing a strategic plan when your organization is small (but mighty!).

5. Peel Leadership Centre – Taking the ‘Plan’ Out of Strategic Planning

A ‘plan’ is just that – a document that tells us where we want to go. There is no action. No excitement. At PLC we want to move away from the emphasis on the plan and talk about the action! We want to talk about strategic development, implementation and evaluation. We want organizations to focus on strategic alignment and how the whole organization can work together to make our vision a reality.

6. Charity Village – Planning for success: Top ten strategic planning tips

If you’re just starting out on your strategic planning journey, this article provides a clear checklist for developing and implementing our strategic plan. From planning to plan, to having a hard due date, to evaluation and keeping the plan relevant, this article can guide you from start to finish.

7. National Council of Nonprofits – Strategic Planning for Nonprofits

Don’t be afraid to revisit and adjust the plan once it’s already in place! This article sets the tone for a positive and adaptive strategic planning process and provides links to a number of tools and resources that can help organizations on their strategic development journey.

8. Joan Garry Consulting – Strategic Planning for Nonprofits: Just Do It!

Joan Garry gives us some tough, no-nonsense advice about our strategic planning. Garry provides a couple of leading questions and options for road maps about how to get that darn strategic plan started! The depth of the strategic plan needed for our organization, elements of a good strategic plan, and questions we need to ask ourselves are all there. If you need some encouragement (read: a loving kick in the behind!) to get the ball rolling, then give this a read!

9. Imagine Canada – Strategic Planning: The best-laid (strategic) plans needn’t go astray

Imagine Canada provides a clear framework for the strategic planning process. The article shows us the key phases of strategic planning, and how to get the train back on the track if unforeseen circumstances or forces out of our control derail our strategy train.

10. Peel Leadership Centre – Resurrecting Strategy with Story

Story and storytelling are buzzwords we’ve all heard recently. But this kind of story is not just for our external communications and fundraising strategies – it is also an invaluable internal communications tool. Internal storytelling processes can help us get back to the very essence of why our organizations exist – our impact. It’s an emotional and powerful jumping-off point for our strategy development.

Are you part of an organization in Peel Region? Then Peel Leadership Centre can help you! We provide a ‘whole organization’ approach to Strategy Development, and it is a completely free service for Peel nonprofits. Click HERE for more information!

Have you got some tips, articles, tools or resources to share around strategy and strategic planning for nonprofits? We’d love to hear about them! Email us at or comment below!

Until next time,


This week’s blog was written by Tina de los Santos. Tina brings a diverse mix of nonprofit and business leadership to her role at PLC. Throughout her career she has been passionate about creating engaging learning experiences that support and inspire people’s professional and personal growth. Tina is our chief knowledge sharer and enjoys digitally connecting with other leaders in Peel to help them find great resources and learning tools.



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