Why Should I Care About the Strategic Plan?

January 25, 2013 | 2 Comments

I'm sure you do pay attention to your organization's strategic plan -- if there is one. But what does it have to do with grants?

The easiest answer is that an organization that knows where it is going can quickly make good decisions about which funding opportunities to apply for and which are not a best fit.

The fact is that more and more grantors request a copy of the strategic plan with your application. The implication is clear. The agency with a weak plan or one that is clearly outdated will not be considered a strong grant recipient.

Even if the plan is not requested, the guidelines may require applicants to show that the grant request is directly linked to the organization's top priorities. Being able to quote the strategic plan and mention its recent adoption date is the easiest way to demonstrate this connection.

We've talked in this space before about how foundations are being much more careful how they invest their money in grant recipients. They want the confidence that the applicant agency is strong and has good planning skills.

So, you need to be able to point to a current strategic plan to demonstrate how your mission aligns with the funder's priorities.

There is another important link between the strategic plan and grant proposals. From the writing perspective, think for a minute about how time consuming it sometimes is to craft strong, specific objectives for your proposals. Yes, it can be a real challenge.

Imagine our delight last month when it took less than 10 minutes to provide four specific measurable objectives in a grant proposal. All because we were able to pull them directly from a current strategic plan. The client didn't even have to edit them.

When the applicant is organized and has a clear plan that makes for stronger grant proposals.The beginning of the year is an excellent time to review your most recent strategic plan. Make sure it is up to date. If it is less than current, advocate with your Director and the Board to bring it up to date.

We'd love to hear your comments about experiences, positive and less than wonderful, with using your organization's strategic plan to guide grant proposals. Please take a moment to comment on this article.


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  • Thanks, Michele. I just had that happen to us with a foundation grant. Instead of just asking us what our goals are, they wanted to see the whole plan. I really think the strategic plans are going to become a deciding factor more and more.

    Posted by Cheryl, 25/01/2013 11:43am (4 years ago)

  • Great article, Cheryl. And to add to it...
    I just submitted a federal grant proposal that required a summary of our strategic plan. The Institute of Museum & Library Services obviously underwent a recent strategic planning process itself. IMLS found so much value in the plan development, they required that applicant organizations demonstrate a link between their Museums for America proposal to the applicant organization's current strategic plan. Connection to IMLS strategic priorities was strongly suggested too.
    Watch for this from other agencies...

    Posted by Michele McGovern, 25/01/2013 11:22am (4 years ago)

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