Four 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 twelves 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 wanted to prepare his people for what was ahead. He needed answers to many questions and asked for evidence, “Bring back some fruit of the land.” Moses. As you envision your preferred future for your ministry, ask your key stakeholders these four questions.

What is right we should amplify?
Focus on what your ministry does well. What unique characteristics set you apart from other organizations? W. Edwards Deming championed the concept of continual improvement which simply means, “getting better all the time.” How could you improve your most effective programs to make them even more productive?

What is broken we should fix?
It takes courage to admit some things in your ministry are broken. 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. Small changes can gradually add up to big changes in effectiveness.

What is missing we should add?
What needs do your clients have? How would additional programing solve their problems? Test your assumptions with some key donors to make sure they believe your new idea has merit. It’s easy to fall in love with a new, shiny object. The danger is adding another program just for the sake of adding another program. Instead of doing many things in a mediocre way, concentrate on doing a few things exceptionally.

What is confusing we should clarify?
Donor communication is the greatest challenge for every organization. Do donors understand your ministry story? Apply the preacher’s principle, “A mist in the pulpit becomes a fog in the pew.” Clearly articulate your vison and eternal impact. 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.” Unfortunately, ten had more fear than faith. 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.
Think about this: Many organizations put great effort into their 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.”
Response: Lord, help me ask the right questions to discover your plan and take the right steps of faith.

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 three books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving, and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for  Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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