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Sep 3, 2010

Keeping your Nonprofit Close to Its Community

Multiyear fiscal planning is an invaluable tool to maintain a tight linkage between a nonprofit’s mission and the shifting needs of the community. Unfortunately, too few organizations use this tool because they mischaracterize it as an error-prone and futile effort to predict the future.

This mischaracterization is understandable. Everyday we see weather forecasts for rain that never arrives. But the value of a long-term plan, however, does not lie in its forecasting process. Rather, its value comes from providing a way to systematically and consistently:

  • Consider future scenarios confronting the organization and the community
  • Examine the consequences of each scenario
  • Illustrate the cumulative effects of key decisions
  • Determine the best responses to prepare for the opportunities and the risks that appear most critical in the coming years

One of the keys to staying relevant as a nonprofit organization is to stay in touch with the changing needs of the community. That critical link between community need and mission cannot be taken for granted. Community needs are continually changing and nonprofits must keep up with those changes if they are to remain pertinent. The only way to keep up with change is to have a process to evaluate it and develop responsive strategies. No one has yet discovered a better tool for this than multiyear planning. It helps you keep your eye on the strategic ball amid the noise and distractions of daily operations.

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