Why Strategic Planning is one of our First Pilot Projects


You may have noticed one of our pilot projects is a Strategic Planning model; specifically, it is one of our Expert Modeled Solutions (EMS). An EMS is a modeled solution refined or built by an expert council so that it can be replicated or implemented by any community.

This is the essence of what Whitestone Foundation is all about. We are a community building organization that seeks to cultivate ideas or solutions in a way that a modeled solution, prototype, template, best practices guide, or whatever other word you can relate to, is created and would allow any community to replicate and implement that model in their community. We even provide access to our database of consultants or vendors for support in successfully implementing the model.

But you may be wondering, out of all the ideas and solutions out there, why is strategic planning one of our first pilot projects? Here are two reasons why.

The Whitestone team knew from the beginning that one of our focus areas would be institutional development. Institutional development refers to the strengthening or developing the skills, resources, and processes needed to grow and sustain an organization. Our community is filled with thriving organizations that face many challenges. This includes governance issues, fundraising struggles, cross-generational understanding, and so on. None of these challenges are uncommon; in fact they present themselves in every conceivable nonprofit environment from other faith-based organizations to youth services to low-income assistance providers.

This brings us to the first reason of why strategic planning is one of our first pilots: we believe that in order for our community to be successful, they must strengthen their organization by focusing on institutional development initiatives.

The second reason roots back to a national market study we initiated at our inception called the '15-year Strategic Roadmap for the American Muslim Community.' This study aims to help determine the gaps in the American Muslim community in terms of services and institutions and outline a clear roadmap that the community can follow over the next 15 years. The study confirmed that our community couldn’t be successful while focusing only on programming; we must also simultaneously invest time and resources on institutional development to overcome our weaknesses.

Our belief is that when an organization has the tools needed to give their team direction and concrete goals to address any challenge they may face, they have an advantage that allows them to overcome their challenges and grow their impact. So knowing that institutional development had to be one of our priorities, we went to the drawing board and asked ourselves ‘where would we start?’ Strategic planning seemed to be the perfect answer since it is a tool to help an organization assess its gaps within its organizational structure or programs and outline the necessary goals to fulfill those gaps.

No matter what challenge a nonprofit may face, when done right, a strategic planning process helps a nonprofit create an action plan to address it.

So what are you waiting for? Help your nonprofit begin the strategic planning process by taking our free online strategic planning course and learn how to facilitate the process. Even if you are not currently a board member or staff member of a nonprofit organization, learn the skill now so that you can help the community when called upon. For more information, check out our full post here