Why a Shorter Strategic Plan is Better

Have you ever been part of a strategic planning process that didn’t work?


Strategic plans are essential tools nonprofits, universities, hospitals, and cultural organizations use to advance their missions. But the traditional strategic plan is often ineffective.  

Most of today’s nonprofit strategic plans are implemented over a five-year period. Yet by the end of year five—or even year four—these plans are too often just after-thoughts, long relegated to a forgotten, dusty binder.  

Five-year strategic plans face these challenges: 

  • They are irrelevant by year four because external factors (pandemic, recession, natural disaster) derail the original goals. 
  • There is a lack of motivation by year four to keep advancing the goals. 
  • A high staff turnover means the plan’s creators are not the implementors. 
  • The fixed goals leave no room to maximize new mission-affirming opportunities that arise. 


Because of these challenges, we recommend a three-year plan for many of our clients. 
A shorter strategic plan, if appropriate for an organization, is easier to create and implement because it: 

  • Creates flexibility and nimbleness. 
  • Deepens relationships with key stakeholders. 
  • Engages donors in meaningful ways. 
  • Results in better goals. 
  • Fosters momentum and increases the likelihood of accomplishing objectives. 


The Winkler Group’s newest resource, Why a Shorter Strategic Plan is Better, details the opportunities a shorter strategic plan creates for many organizations and institutions.   


Download Why a Shorter Strategic Plan in Better and:  

  • start building the plan by determining who to involve in its creation and execution.   
  • learn from case studies that illustrate the benefits of a shorter strategic plan with real-world examples. 
  • decide whether a shorter strategic plan is right for your organization or institution. 


Why a Shorter Strategic Plan is Better
is part of the Winkler Group’s series of resources designed to help nonprofit institutions and organizations fuel their vision. 

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