Creating and then following a data-driven strategic plan is the surest way to increase the impact, sustainability, and growth of your social-good organization. Successful strategic planning is a process, not a one-time event. It starts with developing a vision and then using quantitative and qualitative data to understand where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. You then need the right tools to empower your team as they work to achieve your goals.
Creating a vision for your organization requires dreaming big. If you could design your nonprofit’s ideal future, what would it look like? What products and services would you offer? Who would you serve? What outcomes would your program participants experience? What does your team look like? What resources do they have to accomplish their responsibilities? Look past any barriers or challenges at this stage and just allow yourself to dream up a future worth working towards.
After you create a vision, the next step is to get real. You cannot get where you want to go until you understand where you are. Start with a data-driven deep dive into your organization. Use quality data to understand your team’s strengths and weakness. Look at key indicators to determine the impact of your programs and services. Determine your available and potential resources. Once you’ve established a data supported baseline of your current state, you can work to identify the gaps between your reality and your vision.
Set Short, Medium, and Long-Term Goals
Once you’ve identified the gaps between your baseline and your dreams, you can set goals to fill them. Most gaps cannot be closed in a single step. Setting short, medium, and long-term goals allows you to break down the process into manageable steps. Besides being manageable, your goals must be measurable. Data-driven goals include key indicators and metrics that give you the ability to define and quantify success. The best goals help your organization work to become more efficient, effective, and equitable. In their 2022 annual report, Candid shared “Our goals for 2023 represent not only our priorities for the year, but also a framework we expect to continue to build upon: better data, effective use of data, and a strong organization.”
Employ the Right Tools
Employing the right tools is key to creating a data-driven strategy. Cloud based software solutions make it possible to track and analyze real-time impact data as you work to understand your organizational baseline. These tools are at their most powerful when you focus on the quality of the data, not the quantity. In “The Nonprofit’s Guide to Making Strategic Digital Tech Decisions,” Heller Consulting shared that “Nonprofits are shifting their focus from collecting as much data as possible to curating high-quality data that is relevant to their missions and goals.”
The right tools can also help your organization achieve your strategic goals. Software applications can streamline tasks and workflows, simplify reporting, and improve both internal and external communication. Empowering your team members with the right technology can even lead to lower turnover, less burnout, and smoother transitions. Using the right software solutions to develop and follow a data-driven strategy keeps your organization technologically relevant, efficient, and effective.
SureImpact is a purpose-built impact management platform that is designed for social-good providers by social-good providers. SureImpact provides the data collection and impact reporting infrastructure to meet the unique needs of social-good organizations as you develop and follow a data-driven strategy. SureImpact’s simple and collaborative case management and outcome tracking tools are designed to help nonprofits manage, measure, and communicate their social impact while also increasing data capacity for their team members and supporting a high-performing culture.
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