With the decline in federal and state budgets, educational and other nonprofit organizations face increasingly competitive environments for private funding (Snipes and Oswald, 2010). In the higher education sector, rising operational expenses require colleges to now focus more on the generosity of donors for their survival since they can no longer continue passing these costs down to students (according to a 2015 study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, college costs have soared in the last decade, increasing an average of 39% after adjusting for inflation). Universities have begun to realize that this model simply can't be sustained. The focus on holding down costs while maximizing organizational effectiveness means that nonprofits of all types now face a growing demand from stakeholders for outcome measures and proof of impact that is tied to a sustainable model. This model is not all that different from a business model used in private, for-profit industries (Reid, et. a., 2014).
Unfortunately, many nonprofit leaders have only a limited understanding of the strategic planning process that could help provide the organization with long-term sustainability. Recent research strongly suggests that successful nonprofit organizations make planning "a consistent periodic process," whereas "less successful organizations tend to be more reactive, spurred by crises or unanticipated risks and challenges" (Reid, et. al., 2014, p. 32). The importance of strategic planning to long-term organizational sustainability has been well documented in the private sector, and in the current competitive climate it has become all the more important for nonprofits as well. As pointed out by Clark (2012), simply "satisfying the funding requirements" of donors creates the "environment that is concerned with implementing survival tactics," which is the opposite of growth and strategic planning (p. 34).
The purpose of this paper is to present two case studies in nonprofit strategic planning: one is a university and the other is a recreational sports organization. In doing so, we will attempt to enhance understanding of nonprofit strategic planning by articulating each step and providing specific examples along the way.
Nonprofit Planning, Nonprofit Strategy, Strategic Planning, Nonprofit Case Studies