Many organizations are finishing up 2008 as not only the end of their calendar year, but their fiscal year as well. Hopefully a new or updated annual plan is in place, but I suspect some may be looking to put final touches on one in January. Sadly, some will continue into 2009 with really no clearer definition of what they're doing than just repeating the prior year and hoping for the best.
One of my favorite tools for mapping out the strategy of an organization, and its corresponding implementation plan is the Balanced Scorecard® developed by Kaplan and Norton. There is a wide amount of literature and content available on the use (and misuses) of this tool so I'll leave it to you to Google the subject to your heart's content. You can also read my blog from November 20 on the subject. However, I wanted to provide some extra content for your consideration.
I've attached a white paper written by Joel Zimmerman, Ph.D. of Creative Direct Response, Inc. He provides a succinct perspective on how non profits might look at this tool and offers up specific modifications that focus on the unique nature of non profits. The suggestions are helpful but not required. At a minimum, a non profit should change the leveling of the four categories to have customers at the top followed by financial as second. This modification is justified given the nature of the organization. But Zimmerman suggests six additional mods that merit consideration – especially if you have a strong donor/fundraising emphasis in your strategic plan.
But a plan is useless if it's left on the table to collect dust, and so is this tool. From my experience in working with non profit boards across the country, you have to work your plan and refer to it on a consistent and regular basis. The reason I like the Balanced Scorecard is that it can also be used as a measurement tool to identify progress toward your strategies; as well as a performance plan for staff and volunteers.
-- David Kinard, PCM