Episode #082 – Nonprofit Strategic Planning for 2024 in 3 Simple Steps

Tobi: Welcome to the Volunteer Nation podcast, bringing you practical tips and big ideas on how to build, grow, and scale volunteer talent. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson, and if you rely on volunteers to fuel your charity, cause, membership, or movement, I made this podcast just for you. Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Volunteer Nation podcast.

Wow. I just got back. from a week in Portugal with an entrepreneur mastermind, a group I’m part of, with about 15 to 20 other entrepreneurs. I think there were about 15 of us there. And we were talking all about what we were going to get done in 2024. And we were talking about things we needed help on. A mastermind group is basically a group of people who are usually led, and we are led with our coach, led by our coach.

We get together, we share ideas, we brainstorm solutions to problems. We engage in training together, all kinds of good stuff. It was a fantastic week, and I came home thinking a lot about 2024. And, if you haven’t heard, in a couple of weeks, on November 13th through 17th, our VisionWeek event starts. It’s the biggest online event we do every year.

Actually, we just started, this is our second year, so we’re starting to do it regularly. And part of the reason we do it is because people just don’t know how to do really complete but not overwhelming nonprofit strategic planning. Now, you may have been involved in nonprofit strategic planning in your organization, hired a consultant, spent lots of money.

It was a long-drawn-out process that took months and months. And there is a time and a place for that kind of nonprofit strategic planning. But that’s not the kind of planning I’m talking about today. And I think when we’re planning for the year ahead, sometimes we procrastinate because we think it’s going to be hard, difficult, we don’t have enough time.

And I would argue that you don’t have enough time not to plan. And here’s why I say this. This year, I did not, for 2023, I did not do my normal strategic planning process. And I’m going to share with you my process here. It’s my ready, set, go process. Ready, set, go process. And it’s the process I’ve been using for several years.

And for some reason, time got away from me at the end of 2022. And by the time 2023 had started, it was too late. Then I keep trying to go back to it. It’s been on my to do list. And what do you know, we’re almost to the end of the year. We’re in Q4, quarter four. And I, I’m not any closer to having that plan.

So, I am very committed to getting it done now. So that I have a plan of action for my business next year. And if you’re in that boat where you don’t yet have your strategic plan in place, maybe this podcast will help inspire you. Maybe you can get started and if you have already signed up for a VisionWeek, this is going to be a great prequel to our week of planning and Q and A’s and coaching and inspiration so that you can get that plan done in five days.

And people are like, are you crazy? Five days? I’m like, yes, I’m not crazy. Five days. We try to do this as lean as possible in my company. You know, some people like to have these long, you know, three, five-year, 10-year, 20 years. And while it is very interesting to think about where you want your organization or your volunteer 20 years, this is not that process.

This is very practical. This is saying, you know what, I’m going to take. Control of my year in that’s coming up and, you know, as I said, I didn’t get it done last year, uh, in 2023 and consequently I had a pretty rough year. I started getting close to burnout. I started taking on too many projects, too many things going on because I really didn’t know I didn’t have a plan.

I was just taking on whatever people brought my way. And while these projects have been really fun and engaging, I am not moderating the workload. I wasn’t anyway. I am now. So, there’s a lot of reasons to get engaged in nonprofit strategic planning and especially in this very lean way. And I, and I have three simple steps to my, my framework that I use in my business and that you can use in your nonprofit and in your volunteer programs that you can use here and feel free to use it.

But before we do that, I want to talk about why we should do it in the first place. You know, first of all, we have a lovely, lovely clean slate when we start our new year. And of course, you can do strategic planning for a fiscal year as well. I’m going to talk about calendar year, but it doesn’t matter.

It could be fiscal year as well, whenever your fiscal year starts. But it’s such a great time because there’s a clean slate. It’s a sense of Renewal. It’s a sense of, it’s a new day. We can start again. And it’s not that necessarily you’re doing poorly this year. Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. I don’t know.

I’m of a mind lately to say to myself, you know, we often ask, are we good enough? Have we done all we can? That’s a question I ask a lot. But then I also say to myself, you know what? You’re exactly where do you need to be right now? So, we can be very in the moment. Can be very mindful, can be very grounded, but we also need a plan so that we’re working with ourselves, supporting ourselves so we don’t get overwhelmed.

So, we’ve got a fresh, clean slate. I like to create a vision for the future that I can vision cast and share with other people. And I want it to really be concrete. I want to have a blueprint. For what I think success is going to look like. What are the specific actions that are going to be taken? And that’s what this process will do.

And, you know, folks will say we’re in an uncertain world. And I’ll say, yeah, that’s true. We are in a really uncertain world right now. But you can build, you know, why not? If you don’t know the future, why not invent it? Create it with a plan. To the goals that you seek to meet the gap in where you are now and where you want to be.

And so strategic planning can be a way to beat uncertainty. It can also be a way to beat burnout. You know, as I said, I really bordered on burnout this year. And now that I’m going to have a strategic plan in place, which I’m going to work on in the next week or two. I will have a great foundation to help me decide what to say yes to and what to say no to.

What fits in the plan, what doesn’t, or what I might switch out later. There’s also no reason why you can’t make adjustments to your plan throughout the year. But going with no plan at all is a recipe for disaster. It really is. And I’ve known it because I’ve felt it this year. So, let’s talk about working smarter, not harder.

And here are the things that I’m hoping a really great non… Profit strategic planning process would do for you the results that you would want to get through this process One is that you want to create a plan that inspires a bold vision for what’s possible

Nobody can read your mind. So nobody knows even you may have a lot of ideas and plans in your head But if it’s not on a piece of paper Nobody knows what you’re doing and can’t get behind what you’re doing So if you’re lacking buy in in your organization for, in this case, I hear it a lot from the people I work with, the people I coach, that they feel like volunteerism in particular is not valued.

And well, do you have a plan in place? Do you have a strategic plan you can share with people about what you’re trying to achieve? Well, no. Well, you don’t have a vision to share then. You got to have something on paper. So, if you want to gain. Some buy in from folks and start to really work with actively work with any resistance in your organization You’ve got to show people what’s inside your head and where you’re headed.

So that’s really important. I also think a plan that’s Really helpful is one that isn’t overly complicated. We’re not talking about a 25-page plan here We’re talking about maybe three to five pages. Maybe three to five goals with object with activities Objectives that kind of thing. I’ll talk a little bit more about this in a minute what it will look like. But you don’t want anything to overly complicated because if it’s too complicated nobody wants to read it So want to make sure it’s a complicated especially if you’re running a volunteer program and you want to share this story strategic planning tool or a document with them.

You want to brief them on your strategic plan. You certainly don’t want it to feel too onerous because then people will, what have we signed ourselves up for? Right? You also want to use your plan to get beyond an overwhelming to do list. You know, we have these overwhelming to do lists that, that really feel like things never get done. Like we’re never done with our to do list.

Well, if you have a good strategic plan document in the lean strategic planning process that I’m just going to talk about today, you can set up things to get done on a quarterly basis and then you can start to tick things off and feel like you’re making progress.

We also need to make sure we have a plan that includes downtimes and ebbs and flows of work. This is so important. It can’t be that we’re at 110 percent All the time. Now we in the nonprofit sector work very hard. I know that, but we’ve got to have some subtleties or at least some highs and lows in the amount of work we’re putting in.

Got to have some slower times and maybe some more intense times. I remember when I was a communications director and I loved it when we would have a very intense campaign going and then at the end of the campaign, What I would do in my office is very ritualistic. I would clean up my office when that campaign was done.

I’d file things away, create my archive file, file things away. I’d take a day to just, you know, relax. And then I take another day to just think, what am I going to do next? And so, I really enjoy the ebbs and flows of that job because it felt that it was doable, sustainable for me because I knew, you know, I’d have a few days of rest between my sprints of work.

So, we want to create something that does that. We want to have a plan that will be a litmus test for new work requests. You know, once you have your plan in place, it doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Doesn’t mean you will probably change it a little as the year goes on. You don’t have a plan in place.

Then when people ask you to do more, you can’t show it to them and go, okay, what would you like me to switch out and not do on this plan? Because I’ve planned out an entire year of work here. What would you like me to switch out? And you can have active conversations with your supervisor instead of just saying yes to everything that comes your way because you don’t have a plan.

So, it’s really important. Also, if you have a plan and you know what your goals are, it can be a litmus test of the types of projects. So, does this project further my goals in my plan or does it not? Even if there’s ideas you have for your own new projects, oh wow, that sounds like a really great thing to take on, you can hold it up against your strategic plan and decide like, what, wait a minute, does this fit for this year?

And you might decide to put it in the parking lot for next year. So, we need something that can help us. Say no and say yes to some projects. Uh, we also want to create something that is growth focused. You know, what, what’s our roadmap for the next 12 months? What are the things we’re trying to achieve on sort of practical terms, numeric terms, goals, terms, and when are those things going to get done in the next 12 months?

So, I’ll talk about that in a minute about how we do that. And then again, I just talked about building buy in, but sharing with key stakeholders, maybe there are funders. That want to get involved and they need to know what you have going in the year ahead. So obviously volunteers, I love to brief volunteers on an organization’s strategic plan.

Why? Because they may have ideas for resources, human and otherwise, that can help you get those things done. So, I think everybody should be able to see a top line briefing. Of your organization’s strategic plan. Now, again, today we’re talking about a streamlined strategic plan that’s more appropriate for on a departmental level versus a nonprofit strategic plan that is for the entire organization for the long-term.

That’s a different kind. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about for the year. But we want to share that with key stakeholders that might have some influence or want to support it in some way to give them ideas, get them excited and then impact goals.

I really think it’s helpful for us to know what all that activities will look like. What does success look like at the end of the day? Are there ways that, is this gonna impact the organization, the people we serve, the community at large. So, I think that’s important. And then finally, I like this nonprofit strategic planning to be able to help us align across functions across different departments or cross function.

So, in the case of VisionWeek, or VisionWeek or event, or five-day Strategic Planning bootcamp, part of the process is I’m gonna help them align or help you if you’re joining us, align across the volunteerism into the organization at large. So, I’ll be asking folks, if you are signed up for VisionWeek, be sure that get your hands on your, your organization’s strategic plan.

And if you can’t do that, at least talk to some of the key departments. If you’re supplying volunteers to different departments in your organization, see if you can get your hands on their plans because that’s a, I’ll show you a process for aligning their work with your work that’s quick and easy.

It’s important that we’re aligned. You know, if we’re in a skiff rowing down the river, And we want to get there faster. If every person who’s sitting there is rowing at a different cadence, we’re not going anywhere. In fact, we’ll probably get stuck in the water and start spinning.

So, think how powerful it is when we all row at exactly the same time in, in a synchronous way. How, how much faster we can glide across that water. So those are our goals in strategic planning, and they do need to be aligned. It impacts everything and it impacts communications. and editorial calendars. It impacts when we might do fundraising asks.

It impacts when we might recruit volunteers to start up a program or to staff a program. There are all kinds of reasons that it is, we need to be more aligned and less siloed in our nonprofit. So those are just a few of the ways that nonprofit strategic planning can both benefit you, but also what you hope that plan will do for you, right?

And I hope those things sounded good to you because they do to me. I want those kinds of things. I want to be confident in what I’m doing going forward. And I also want to track on it and see what didn’t work and what did. So, let’s switch gears now and talk about these three steps I’ve been hinting about for nonprofit strategic planning that’s done in a really lean way.

And again, this is more departmental. This process is more appropriate for departmental strategic plan or if you’re a very small nonprofit, I think these will work well. So, my framework is just ready, set, go. Just three simple steps, ready, step, go. And so, I’m going to go over each of these and give you a sense of how this works.

So, the first step is to envision a bold future. So, step one of this very streamlined lean process that can, you know, in our VisionWeek. Program, we’re gonna get everybody to a plan in five days. And people are like, that’s insane. No, it’s not. And we’re not gonna work all day at it either. We’re not gonna work all day at it.

We’re just gonna work at it a little bit at a time, each of the five days. So, the first step really is envisioning a bold future. So, you want to think about what your goals, programs, and initiatives in the coming year are. What, what are the things that are high priority for you at in 2024? You also want to think about the past.

So, there’s a time in this ready, envision the future stage where you’re also thinking about what happened the year before. You’re doing a little bit of what I like to call, or it’s not my terminology, but people call it appreciative inquiry. Where you’re thinking about what did I accomplish in 2023? What went well, what could go better?

You know, some of you are familiar with SWOT matrices where it’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I like strengths, problems, opportunities, and threats because problems are things you can solve. Weaknesses aren’t always, you know, I’m not flexible. And probably if I keep, even if I keep doing yoga, I probably won’t be as flexible as some other people.

That’s just how my body’s set up. So that’s, you know, weakness is not always something you can overcome. But problem is, I like spot matrix. The other thing in terms of volunteer engagement in this ready phase, you want to really set your big vision for volunteers. Now if you’re working in another department, think of what your big vision is for your department.

But what’s, you know, what, you know, there’s kind of four big questions I like to ask about what’s my big vision for volunteers. What do we want their experience to look like? You know, how would we characterize that experience as they contribute to our organization? What makes your operations different this year?

So, in the coming year, what are you going to be doing differently as you evolve? What are volunteers working on? How are they contributing? It may not be the same old, same old. You may be bringing on new roles. And how do they make your organization better? Not just by the fact of contributing their time and talent, but what are other ways they can help make your organization better as, uh, uh, involved and.

Or deeply involved, often, stakeholders. So, what’s your big vision for volunteers? So, this is a high level, when we’re in the envisioning stage, we’re not doing a list of all the volunteer roles and what each role is going to entail and all that, we’re, we’re thinking more broadly, just, you know, more of a 10, 000-foot view down onto our volunteer program.

What is it that our big, how we, how we describe this big, bold vision we have for the year ahead. It gets pretty exciting. Actually, it gets very inspiring. And by the way, strategic planning is better done with teams. You’re actually better off. And so, this visioning process is really fun to do with a small group because you get all kinds of ideas.

And then you can see how far apart you are and are you all on the same page? And the mere, the merely the conversation itself inspires everybody, but also helps you come to some type of consensus, you know, cause you don’t all want to be working at cross. And again, without a plan, you’re more likely to work at cross purposes because nobody knows what anybody else is doing and there’s no central plan anybody’s working from. Right?

So, then another really great thing to do in the Envision stage is to map your context. What is happening, you know, in your local demographics, industries, Corporation, schools, faith-based organizations, your economy, nonprofit landscape, volunteering rates. Like what’s all the things that could be assets for you in your community? Volunteer centers, what could they be?

And then what are the trends or topics of conversation or things coming down the pike that are happening in your community? You know, and this is good to know ahead of time, you know, because this might impact something. Maybe you have a large construction project that’s going to be going on near your nonprofit and it’s going to impact traffic patterns.

And so, it’s going to make it harder for volunteers to get to you. That’s something that I would put in my strategic plan so that I know, and I can think about it. Okay. We are going to have to deal with this. Let’s, let’s think it through now. So, you’re anticipating anything that could block you from success.

So, and you’re also looking for resources, you know, Hey, there’s a new reporter at X, Y, Z TV station. They have the community beat. Let’s get to know them and let them know we do. So, when they’re looking for a story, they know we’re an obvious place to come to, to talk about, for example, National Volunteer Week.

So that’s sort of the ready, um, or that is the ready. Uh, envision the future, step one. So, you’re going to figure out what your goals are, you’re going to do a little appreciative inquiry, you’re going to figure out your big vision, and you’re going to map your context. Okay? So, I’ve got two more steps, but I’m going to take a quick break from my simple nonprofit strategic planning tutorial today.

All right, so we’ll be right back. If you enjoyed this week’s episode of Volunteer Nation, we invite you to check out the Volunteer Pro Premium Membership. This community is the most comprehensive resource for attracting, engaging, and supporting dedicated high impact volunteer talent. for your good cause.

Volunteer Pro premium membership helps you build or renovate an effective what’s working now volunteer program with less stress and more joy so that you can ditch the overwhelm and confidently carry your vision forward. It is the only implementation of its kind. That helps your organization build maturity across five phases of our proprietary system, the volunteer strategy success path. If you’re interested in learning more, visit volpro.net/join.

Okay. We’re back with our discussion of my system for nonprofit strategic planning that beats burnout y’all and gets us all on the same page. Isn’t that great? Who doesn’t want that? So, let’s get into step two. Step one was ready, envision the future.

Step two of my ready, set, go framework is set, plan your strategy. This is what people often think of as, you know, planning process, this set, uh, stage. So, you map your game plan. So, what’s your action plan for project stages, tasks, success factors, and anticipated challenges to achieving the vision you set.

In step one, when you were envisioning the future, so you’re really mapping out a game plan for, you know, what are we actually going to do right now? I am a huge fan of simplifying these plans to three to five big initiatives. That will support achieving your bold vision. I think when you do more than five You’ve got too many on the list and what happens is people become demoralized because Especially if you’re engaging volunteers and helping you move this strategic plan forward Is it can be kind of demoralizing not only to your volunteers, but also to you.

So, let’s pick some This is a simple plan and let’s make sure it’s doable, right? It’s achievable. So, three to five big initiatives are a lot in one year. It doesn’t, it seems like you could do more and I’m, you know, I suffer from biting off more than I can chew. In fact, I used to tell my coaching clients, Hey, this is what I was first doing.

For example, our volunteer recruitment accelerator program, I would say, you know what? I think I bit off more than you can chew. So, I had to stream, you know, really prune down a little bit the program because I was being overly ambitious. For what anybody could realistically get done in any given span of time.

So, I want you to really think about what three to five big initiatives are. And you don’t have to have five, you could have three. It’s okay, right? So, they might be things like program startup or program development. It might be a recruitment campaign. Or marketing it might be retention or community building.

These are the kinds of big initiatives. I’m talking about So these are high level and then you create your strategic plan for so each of those. Uh, Three to five initiatives you’re thinking under each their objectives their activities outcomes And for those outcomes, do you have data that’s going to tell you whether or not you reached your outcomes?

Now, so this is, this goes beyond just a, you know, a fancy to do list. There are actually outcomes you’re expecting. If everything goes right, what is the ultimate outcome? And the outcome often is some rephrased version with a number to it, a number, and a timeframe to it. Of your main goal for that section.

So, and that’s how it should be. They’re aligned, right? You have the goal. And then what’s the impact? That the goal got done in this many days or by this date and this, and you know, to this level, which is your, your numbered goals. And I like, again, to think about my data sources for those. How am I going to know?

I’ll give an example. Cool. I was doing with Master Gardener here; I was on the executive committee, and I facilitated our strategic planning process a few years ago. And we set up some goals. We were working on our strategic plan, and we were using this process. And one of our goals was to diversify the number of volunteers and the kinds of volunteers we had in our, involved as Master Gardener volunteers.

And we asked ourselves, well, how would we know? And one of the ways we can know is demographics and zip codes, different neighborhoods around. So, we decided, Hey, let’s try to get volunteers from all the different zip codes in our area. And so, I asked, how do we know? Which zip codes people come from, and you know rather than creating a brand-new data source Which you can do and sometimes you have to do you also can find Existing data sources.

So, we actually have a membership website and people pay their member dues through that website And, in those member dues, people need to include, because they have billing information for their credit cards, because they pay online, that they have their addresses there. So, we could do a sort of, or we could do a download of all the addresses of everybody who’s a paying member, and then we could pull out all those zip codes.

So, we had a data source. Really important to know your data source and start collecting data through that source. Before you start working on your plan, before you start doing the work of the plan, what I mean by working on your plan in this case. So, before January, you need to figure out where are those data sources going to be.

In the end, you want to make sure that you have a concrete goal, a concrete objective, a numbered impact goal of some kind. And during VisionWeek, we’re going to talk about how to do this in more detail. But you want to make sure you have that so that you know that success is reached or not reached at the end of the day.

And sometimes you don’t, you’re not going to, you’re not going to nail every goal unless they’re very unambitious. And I’m pretty sure you guys are not unambitious people. And then you want to track on that plan. And a very simple way that we did it when we, when I facilitated the strategic planning process with my master gardener group was, Every month that we got together, we would just strike through anything on the plan that we were done.

We’d just do strike through using, cause it was on a Word document. And I would just strike through anything, any of the tasks or any of the goals or objectives we had completed in the strategic plan. So, at the end of the year, it was so satisfying to see a document. In the end, we didn’t get all of it done.

We, most strategic plans don’t get a hundred percent done, but I think we got through about 75 percent of it was struck, struck through using, you know, just in the word doc document struck through. And that’s pretty satisfying to see all that stuff completed. It was like, wow, gang, we’ve come a long way.

And you look back and you’re like, wow, okay. We really did, because, you know, at the end of the year, if you don’t have any documentation of what you’ve done, it’s hard to remember, and it’s really hard to celebrate. And part of this is about celebration as well. Alright, let’s talk about step three, which is of our Ready, Set, Go! Nonprofit Strategic Planning Quick and dirty process.

Let’s talk about step three. Go implement your strategy. So, we envisioned our strategy, we created our strategy, and now we’re going to implement our strategy. So, we calendar out 12 months, and we build in white space. So, I do this on I buy, and in fact, I already have mine ready to go.

In fact, I brought it with me to Portugal in my suitcase, believe it or not. I use a giant just desk calendar, you know, the kind you put on the top of your desk, like an ink blotter type calendar. And I will rip out all of the months and put them on my wall in my office. In this case, while I was at the retreat in Portugal, I was going to actually spend one day or half a day doing This getting all my calendar stuff out, get everything counted out for the year.

Unfortunately, my baggage got lost for about three days. So, by the time I, my bag showed up at the hotel, uwe were just about to start the real intense two-day part of our strategy or part of our retreat, our mastermind retreat. And so, there was no time left. So, I brought it back and I’m going to do it next week. And that’s okay.

So, I calendar it out. I put everything up. I put a national volunteer week, giving Tuesday, any holidays, any vacations, anything, any, um, think normal projects we do every year, like our volunteer management progress report survey. I just put those all on the calendar and then I will put in any campaigns, marketing campaigns, team meetings that are recurring, any special initiatives, anything I’ll put it in there.

And, you know, I like to get it pretty much figured out for the year ahead. It’s preplanned. I’m not, you know, this year I will say I didn’t do that. And I, I really suffered. Uh, so this is a way to take control of, you know, what’s, what’s going to happen in the year ahead. And it also helps, you know, you can draft it up and then share it with your supervisor and say, how does this look?

Share it with other departments, say, how is this looking compared to what you’re doing? And it helps you align a little bit better. So, I really like to get that, that nailed for the entire year. And then each quarter, I will take that year of 90 days of the quarterly sprint, and I will break it down and I will, we will create a plan for each quarter.

And so, we take the bigger plan, we pull out that quarter’s activities and we focus on that for 90 days. This is an excellent way. Of, you know, you’ve got your annual plan and then you’re breaking it down into your quarterly sprints. It’s very manageable. It feels like you’ve got things under control as much as you can.

I know we can’t have everything under control in today’s world to stay possible. It helps us keep kind of on top of things. And then I like to move this plan and our, our quarterly sprint online. So, we will use a project management software where you can create project plans and set up assignments and all that.

So, you can manage that, what is happening in that quarterly sprint. using an online software. Now the reason I like project management software is because it’s great. It’s a great way for remote teams to work together. Um, everybody knows what everybody’s doing. Um, it’s quite organized and we don’t have to be in person because my team works remotely.

We never see each other in person and it’s totally possible to run an initiative without being in the same room. So, it’s really great for remote work to have an online planning tool. And then the final thing I would say is you want to burnout proof your plan. You know, and this is a process that, you know, in normal nonprofit strategic planning, not very many people think of, we’re all thinking about how much more can we do.

But I would also build in some time for reflection, some time, time off. And remember, as I said early at the beginning, time for ebbs and flows. Are there quiet times on your calendar? Is there white space on your calendar? Are there times where you just get to rest a little bit about, or after a very intense campaign?

So, make sure you try to, you know, you, you do burnout proof your plan. Now, the other thing I like to recommend is that people do weekly time blocking and mega batching. And, and I’m going to talk about this in more detail during VisionWeek and train you on how to do it. But in a nutshell, time blocking, weekly time blocking is really just figuring out what your ideal week looks like and blocking off time for specific activities for deep work.

So, for example, on Mondays, I rarely have meetings on Mondays. Mondays are my deep workdays. And that’s where I work on, you know, training slides and, uh, workbooks and all, you know, curriculum development, all the things that, that make a company like ours run and all my client work. Those on Mondays are a big day for me to do a lot of that design work, and it that design work is not easy to do in fits and starts throughout a day.

That’s peppered by a bunch of meetings. That’s not an ideal way to get your creative juices flowing. So, I set aside time for that. I also set aside time for certain days of the week where I’ll have calls with folks, and those are the times where we’re gonna have fall calls. So, you wanna time block when you can so you’re not.

You know, task switching from one thing to another, to another, to another, to another, because every time you switch tasks, you actually, it’s not efficient. Your brain has to recalibrate itself. And so, you’re losing time. So, it’s better to do in a time block, to do all the same kinds of things in a row.

Like for example, checking your email. Yeah, you can leave your email, email open all day long, and every time an email comes in, you can look over there and open it up and address it and go back to your task again. Or you can say, you know what? I’m gonna read my email in the morning. I’m goanna read my email in the afternoon. And that’s it, right? And then you’re not distracted by that email coming in.

So, you got to figure that out. What, what’s going to work for you? And then mega batching is really about doing again, that kind of time blocking, but on a more macro level. So, for example, this is something we’re trying to do. We have not, I will say, we have not gotten to this yet.

It’s hard to do, especially when you’re traveling a lot, but I’m trying to get to a week or two, every month. We’re it’s podcast time. We’re interviewing guests. I’m doing solo shows like this one and it’s all happening. I’d like to get it down to one week a month. Everything’s happening in that month. So, I’m recording, they’re being edited, we’re getting them all posted in draft form and then we can release them at, throughout the next month.

You know, that is ideal when you’re talking about content production and most of us are creating content. You could, if let’s say you do a volunteer newsletter, you are doing a volunteer newsletter and you kind of know most for most, for the most part, what’s going to be in that newsletter. You could batch all and draft up all of your newsletters for the coming month.

You do this one in one day a month, get them all drafted and ready to go. And then you can just add any last-minute content and fire them off when they’re supposed to say you have a weekly newsletter, fire it off each week. And once they’re set, you can set it and forget it. They’re almost, you know, and if you have all the content, then you preschedule it in your email service provider and boom, you’re done with that for the, for the rest of the month.

So, it really is a much better way to work. It takes some organization though, and that’s part of the strategic planning process, right? So, we’re trying to infuse the process with some burnout prevention. So, we don’t feel like we’re on a gerbil wheel. So, we do have time for deep work. That’s, that’s a really important in today’s world.

You know, we’re in the knowledge economy. And so, our brain is our greatest asset as managers and leaders. And so, we’ve got to take care of that brain. So that’s my process for strategic planning, nonprofit strategic planning for 2024. Those are my three simple steps. Ready, set, go. Ready, envision a bold future.

Set, plan your strategy. and go implement your strategy. So, I hope it’s been helpful. I hope it’s given you a bit of an overview, but I would really also enjoy, encourage you, I should say, I would also enjoy working with you during VisionWeek. It’s a week. We can all be accountable to getting our planning done.

It’s high energy. We have a ton of fun. We have set up our pop-up community inside Circle, which is where our part of our volunteer pro membership community lives. We already have people in there introducing themselves, a great place to network. And I will be popping in every day during VisionWeek. I’ll be popping or posting a mindset moment, sort of a leadership tips throughout the week, every morning, just to, just to spice it up a little bit, keep people moving forward.

Strategic planning is sometimes an emotional process. Sometimes we’re disappointed with, with how things went the year before. Sometimes we’re nervous about, you know, what, what can I really be expected to get done? What if I fail? What if no one will support me? There are all kinds of what ifs.

So, we’ve got to manage those. fears and doubts. So, the process isn’t without emotion. And so sometimes it’s easier to do it in a group. And so that’s why we do VisionWeek. Also, most of us have not been trained in how to do strategic planning. And most if they have been trained, have a very complex process.

And I just don’t believe in that in today’s world. Things are changing too quickly, and we need to remain nimble, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a plan. That doesn’t mean we’re living completely reactively, because if you’re living reactively, gang, it doesn’t feel good. It’s exhausting. We don’t have to do that. We can live proactively.

Does it mean all of our plans are set in stone? No, but we are leading with our plans. We’re not waiting for someone else to tell us what to do. And you know what? That’s a sign of a really good leader. We’re leading the way. And you can do that with this strategic planning process.

So, I hope you’ll join us for VisionWeek. If you want to learn more about how to get enrolled, it’s very affordable. We’re charging only 79 for the entire week. I purposely keep this really, really. Just because I want as many people as possible to get a plan in place because we’ve got big things to do in the world, y’all.

So go to volpro.net/vision. That’s volpro.net/vision. You can learn all about it. What we’re going to do, you’ll see the ready, set, go process mentioned there. And you’ll see some information and links on what kind of supplies you might need to get your hands on. And once you enroll, you’ll start to get some emails with introductory information.

It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you’ll join us again. VisionWeek is November 13th through 17th. I’ll be doing about 75 to 90 minutes of instruction Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Friday, we’ll do a wrap up celebration. I think I’m going to invite some of our volunteer pro members to talk about their plans.

I’ll have a couple of Q&A sessions throughout the week. So, if you get stuck, You can jump on with me and ask your questions and then we’ll have our pop-up community. It’ll be a lot of fun. So, I hope you join us and if not, if you can’t join us still, Oh, and by the way, we will be recording VisionWeek.

So, if you can’t join us live, you can still take advantage. But regardless of what you do, get a plan in place before January 1st, don’t do like I did. And just dog paddle through the entire year trying to keep my head above water. That’s not a way to live, you guys. And we don’t have to. We are the people who can create the future for ourselves.

Be a leader, a, a true leader casts a bold vision for those who are following them. Even if you don’t, you know, you’re not, you’re, maybe you’re not at the top of the org chart. That’s okay. It doesn’t matter. You can lead from where you sit. And rather, again, rather than having, waiting for people to come and tell you what to do, you can tell them what your bold vision is and how you’re going to get there.

And you know what? Most of the time people, that sounds great. Let’s do it. How can I help you? How can I support you? Then you can say, well, you know what? Here’s a few resources that I think might help. It’s a great way to get buy in. So, I hope this has been helpful. If you are, liked it, I hope you’ll share it, mention it to a friend.

Again, we, as I say at the end of every episode, we love ratings. It helps us get in front of more people. Make sure we’re spreading the message of effective volunteer engagement and the value of volunteerism and leave us a comment. I always like to hear what our listeners think. So that’s it for this show.

We will see you next time. Same time. Same day. Next week on the volunteer nation, take care everybody. Thanks for listening to this episode of the volunteer nation podcast.

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