Vision and mission are crucial elements in a strategic plan. Having a North Star can help a nonprofit grapple with the uncertainty and complexity of today’s environment. In addition to these two elements of a strategic plan, Partners for Impact encourages clients to focus on developing their values. In the last blog, the concept of VUCA was introduced. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) may profoundly disrupt the programs, funding streams and operating contexts of today’s nonprofits. But even in turbulent waters, a clear sense of purpose and values can steer organizations towards meaningful impact, especially when strategies must shift and change.

Partners for Impact has discovered that organizations are working hard to grapple with their vision, mission and values in the wake of the pandemic, the racial reconciliation that has begun and the overall uncertainty of the political landscape. Our recommended process begins with an exercise for staff, board, and a strategic planning committee (in different meetings) to reflect on who you want to be as an organization, why you do the work you do, and the impact you want to have. Partners for Impact focuses on values. Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. They help us to determine what is important to us. Values describe the personal qualities we choose to embody to guide our actions; the sort of person we want to be; the manner in which we treat ourselves and others, and our interaction with the world around us. Exercises used by our consulting team helps explore the values that guide the organization. These important initial conversations are designed to develop consensus on the vision, values, and mission, ensuring they are current, relevant, and express a shared “why,” “how,” and “what you do” for the organization.

Later in the process as goal areas are discovered through the planning process, Partners for Impact encourages clients to see what strategies emerge that align with the values. Our consultants have even devised a matrix where goal areas run down the side of a matrix and values run across the top. This values-based approach to strategic planning sets the stage for the development of strategies that are consistent with the values expressed by the organization. More importantly, a framework is created for the organization to use when there are significant changes that impact the organization and people they serve. The organization has the power to adapt and change while maintaining a commitment to being who they say they want to be.