Montana Nonprofit Association

promoting a strong nonprofit sector in MONTANA

Principle: Planning

Organizational planning is a process that defines a nonprofit’s overall direction and identifies the activities and strategies to be employed in fulfilling its mission. Nonprofits have a duty to engage in short-term and long-term planning, including the development of strategies for capacity building and for the sustainability and growth of programs and resources.

Sound planning also benefits nonprofits by providing organizational focus and unification of board, staff, volunteers, and the community around the mission. Nonprofit planning is evolutionary and should include input from constituents in order to position the organization to achieve its goals. Planning is the most critical piece of organizational management and should be at the center of decision making.


Vision, Mission, Values 

1. Originally defined by its incorporators or its initial board of directors, a nonprofit’s vision, mission, and value statements should be periodically reviewed by the board of directors, taking into consideration societal and community changes. This review should determine whether these statements are still relevant and/or whether they should be amended to address evolving needs of its target constituents and the community at large.

2. The board of directors and the staff should be able to articulate a shared vision for the organization that guides the establishment of goals and objectives.  

Assessment and Planning 

3. In planning for its activities, a nonprofit should be responsive to community needs and therefore should solicit input from a variety of sources including staff, board, donors, and constituents.

4. Organizational planning should be intentional and ongoing.

5. A nonprofit should conduct a periodic assessment, including consultation with counterparts in its field, to determine the need for services being provided and how best to use community resources.

6. A nonprofit should adopt a comprehensive organizational plan for implementation of all its activities, including operations, program strategies, financial management, fundraising, communications, and risk and crisis management.

  • The plan should reflect the results of an assessment that includes information on strengths and weaknesses/challenges facing the organization, as well as opportunities for, and perceived threats to, achieving its mission.
  • The plan should include clearly defined goals and objectives and articulate measurable outcomes.
  • The plan should clearly identify specific activities, timelines for their completion, and the person(s) responsible for implementation of each activity.
  • Goals and objectives should be reasonably attainable given staffing, resources, constituents, and the number of people being served.
  • The plan should be a useful management tool for measuring activities and outcomes and should be tied to a solid budget. 
  • The plan should provide a framework for regular progress reports; it should be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.
  • The plan should be flexible enough to allow the board of directors and staff to adapt to unforeseen changes and take advantage of unanticipated opportunities.

Governance & Leadership  ~  Human Resources 

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