Strategic planning process getting everyone together

Warning from a Grant Writer: Grants Are Not the Solution! Try A Strategic Planning Process Instead

Find out why a strategic planning process is the best first tool to getting the funding you need.

As a nonprofit founder, you are passionate about your programs and services. You often skip the strategic planning process and start looking for grants when financial and human resources start to run on empty.

What’s the problem with writing grants?

You may have some early and limited success with grant writing, but eventually you will end up on empty again.

Three important things to know about grants:

  1. You have to follow the grantor’s rules, so there has to be good fit between the grantor and the organization.
  2. You may just go after money rather than forwarding your mission and goals.
  3. Grant writing is time consuming. Learn more here: Grant Writing – 3 key ingredients


Additionally, if you keep going like you have been, within a year you will

  • not be able to increase or improve services or programs.
  • still be doing most of the work to provide the service.
  • not have a moment to think about what will come next or if any of what you are doing is working.
  • know your money and time issues are not improving.


What to do at this point? Often nonprofit founders do one or more of the following:

  • Try to write a grant or hire a nonprofit grant writer
  • Add a charity event
  • Ask businesses and friends to sponsor their work
  • Donate more time and/or money to keep going


While all the above are good ways to raise funds or keep going, the impact to your programs and services are usually short term. There is a limit to what any of those activities can do alone or even in combination.

The Strategic Planning Process Will Keep Your Tank Full!

In the short term, going through a strategic planning process will take time and money, probably away from your current programs and services. The long-term payoff, however, makes up for the short-term loss. Coupled with business and operational plans, you will have the tools to continue to provide and even grow your services and programs.


Benefits of Strategic Plans

  • Bring focus to your work, message, and story
  • Know where to prioritize your time
  • Provide ways to measure the effectiveness of your work
  • Staff (if any) and the Board are on the same page
  • Help you and your Board, staff and volunteers communicate to donors and the community why’s, what’s, and how’s of your organization’s goals.


With this new focus, you will be able to grow funding and service in multiple ways, which may indeed include grants.

More on the importance of Strategic Planning for Nonprofits

For more on nonprofit funding models and the importance of planning and focus, I recommend reading The Fundraising Diversification Myth: Debunked by Nate Van Cleve. His analogy to the Google funding model is especially helpful to understanding how most nonprofits work. Janet Cobb’s Profitability Newsletter discusses Who Needs’s a Strategic Plan and Joan Garry’s blog post Strategic Planning: Just Do It! offers great insight on the why’s and how’s of strategic planning for nonprofits.


If you are considering creating a Strategic Business Plan for your nonprofit, schedule your free 30-minute consultation and information session with me using the form on this page, under my picture. Not sure? Learn more about Growing Your Good Work Services and how we help nonprofits.

More Blog Posts

See Brenda

Hi! Welcome to Brenda's Blog!

I help business owners and nonprofit leaders design strategies and align their finances with their business goals. I live in St. Augustine, Florida with my two daughters and 2 cats. I love walks in the woods, gardening and reading historical fiction. 

Get helpful tips to grow your bottom line!

Schedule a meeting with me and start Growing Your Good Work!