Why Bother with a Strategic Plan?

By Susan Snider

The thought of writing a strategic plan can be a daunting prospect. Let’s focus on why a strategic plan is important for any size organization, what resources are needed to create one.

A good strategic plan should clearly reflect the Friends’ vision, values and mission as well as milestones for measuring success. A good plan will also foster communication, build commitment and set priorities. From the strategic plan will flow a business plan, which details the operational requirements (revenue and expenses) for implementing the plan over the next one to three years. The strategic plan also provides consistency in developing marketing and fundraising materials.

Developing a strategic plan can take anywhere from one day to one year depending upon available resources, including time, money and the number of mission–related issues for which critical choices need to be made. Start by answering the question, “Why does the Friends group exist?” The answer will direct the development of all other aspects of the organization, including programming, fundraising and board development.

The Friends /refuge collaboration adds a unique dimension to the planning process. As Friends groups, we are dedicated to supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System. Our relationship with the refuge is critical to our success. Key to successful collaboration is communication. Good communication means that expectations, roles and responsibilities and are aligned between the parties. As Conserving the Future notes, the common ground for Friends and refuge staff is our shared passion for wildlife and our love of wild places; these should be reflected in your mission, vision and strategic plan.

Additional Resources:

Soaring to New Heights, A Guide to Creating a Sustainable Friends/Refuge Collaboration www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/SoaringToNewHeights.html

Susan Snider is president of the Friends of the Norwalk Islands of Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, CT.