I’ve got a board meeting tonight for the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia. We’re in the midst of the first strategic planning process in the nonprofit’s history, with the goal being to approve our Strategic Plan for 2015-19 at the next quarterly meeting.

It’s one thing for a nonprofit to have a firm sense of its social mission, but it’s an entirely different thing to have a specific plan for realizing that mission in a way that’s concrete and measurable. That’s where strategic planning comes in, which should be clarifying for the board as much as for staff and volunteers.

Because the Pro-Life Union strives to build the Culture of Life, most directly by supporting those making the choice for life, it possesses a mission that will always be relevant. There will always be people in unexpected situations who need tangible support, whether material, spiritual, financial, emotional, or some combination. Knowing that your organization needs to be resilient enough to live for a century or more, while still being agile enough to respond to a community’s changing needs, is helpful for guiding the strategic planning process. Every organization’s time horizon is different, but every organization should be proactive rather than reactive. Strategic planning is a hallmark or proactive organizations.

As we were drafting our strategic plan, a member of our Nominating, Governance, and Strategic Planning Committee also helped us think in terms of SMART goals to strike the balance between the extremes of goals that are either too general to be actionable, or too aggressive to be achievable. They’re SMART because they’re Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

I’ll write more on strategic planning in the future.