4 Helpful Strategic Planning Questions

“When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)” Numbers 13:17-20

Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land to discover all the blessings God had in store for the Children of Israel. This wasn’t a recreational trip but a reconnaissance mission. Moses had many questions and needed answers, “Bring back some fruit of the land.” Moses wanted to prepare his people for what was ahead. As you envision your preferred future for your ministry, ask your key stakeholders these four questions.

What is right that we should amplify? Focus on what your ministry does well. Identify your unique characteristics. W. Edwards Deming championed the concept of continual improvement which simply means, “getting better all the time.” What changes could you make to your most effective programs to produce even greater results?

What is broken that we should fix? It takes courage to identify and change things that aren’t working. Sometimes, the best move is to eliminate a program, but those are painful conversations. If the program is worth salvaging, don’t take a band aid approach. Invest the personnel and dollars to completely turn it around.

What is missing that we should add? Sometimes we jump to what’s new and shiny. Instead of doing many things in a mediocre way, concentrate on doing a few things exceptionally. Test your assumptions with some key donors to make sure they believe your new idea has merit.

What is confusing that we should clarify? Communication is the greatest challenge for every organization. Apply the preacher rule, “A mist in the pulpit becomes a fog in the pew.” Clearly articulate your vison. Donors won’t give generously to a strategic plan they don’t understand.

The twelve spies believed the land was “flowing with milk and honey,” yet ten let fear stand in their way. This is a great strategic planning lesson. You can see all the evidence pointing to a God-inspired vision for your ministry, but if you lack faith you won’t move forward.

Response: Lord, I praise you for your perfect plan. Help me ask the right questions to discover your plan and take the right steps of faith.

Think about this: Many organizations put great effort into developing a strategic plan, only to have it gather dust on a shelf. General George S. Patton said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

Have a Spirit-led fundraising week,


Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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