Last week I wrote about looking back in order to learn and plan for the next steps. This week I want to take a look at planning. I wrote about how to plan for achieving your set goals before (see here). Now, I want to highlight another aspect of planning. I want to draw your attention to the need to plan for actions you may not consider when looking at your goals and the activities you need to implement to achieve these. Let’s look at what I would call the support acts for your core work. Let’s plan your check-ups and routines!


Most nonprofit people are very much focused on the vision, the mission, the strategies, the goals. On what they want to achieve. On the change they want to bring about. And this is good, of course, very good. You need to see clearly what needs to get done, what you need to produce or provide, what results you need to generate in order to achieve impact. And these are indeed key things you need to plan for very carefully.

Zoom out

Now, take a moment to zoom out. Because this is not all there is. What do you need to have in place so that you can implement your plan? Likely, you need people to support you. You need data to make sure you are on track. You need to receive and spend money. To name just a few things.

Organizational backbone

These so-called support acts should all be part of the routines in your organization, should be part of the organizational backbone if you will. You need to have policies in place, and mechanisms and processes, to make sure these tasks are implemented timely and correctly. (and formats, templates, checklists, instructions) And yes, this requires a degree of planning as well.

How to plan for the support acts?

Even if many of these activities are (or will become over time) routine, you still need to set aside time to get them done. That means, you must allocate a space in your planning for these tasks:

  • Someone on your staff must have a notification in their calendar for the weekly pay outs, for the monthly cash counts, for the monthly financial overviews.
  • Someone should allocate a time slot to write the newsletter for your donors, to give a personal call to the bigger donors, to invite your donors to your event.
  • Equally, someone needs to check the Facebook statistics, the newsletter readership and the website traffic regularly. They need to make overviews of the data and help the team make sense of these. So that adjustments can be made as needed in the type of posts or the timing of posts.

And if you are the leader, you will need to make sure all this (and more) is happening as and when it should.



Planning overlay

To make sure these tasks are not overlooked until the last minute, you must make a planning on a second level. Almost like an overlay on top of the planning for achieving your objectives. In this, you need to highlight all the support activities that need doing. And you need to assign these tasks to one or more team members. You also need to highlight all relevant links between these activities and the core activities. Make clear how these are interdependent. What cannot happen without another thing being wrapped up? What is needed to be done so that another thing can be done properly?

For example?

For instance, if you are planning a big event as part of your core work, you might want to invite your donors to join this, too. You might want to post pictures of the event on your Facebook page, with a neat text and a link to a blog post on your website. Afterwards, you may want to see how many people you reached with that post. And to understand whether that is more or less than average. Or you need to submit a quarterly report to your donor, not only about the results achieved but also about costs incurred. Perhaps you want to show the team how many people read the newsletter and what they donate in a year ….. Possibly because of reading that newsletter.

You cannot party without a backbone

As you can see, many of the more mundane work on data, finance, communication and such has a very clear link to the work that you need to do to achieve your objectives. Because these tasks are usually done by different members on your team, this is, however, not always at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. And sometimes that leads to a feeling of burden, instead of enrichment, when the linkages are forcing collaboration and exchange. Be clear, and make clear to your team, that everyone is needed to get where you want to go. You really cannot party without that backbone.

Now what?

Now it is time to make your planning overlay. Plan for your communication work, your administrative tasks and your data collection and analysis. Add this overlay to your core planning and make sure the match is real, practical and doable.

How I can help

Check out these free resources I crafted for you:

If you want to learn more about how you can design your own monitoring framework and budget in the best, practical way, join my course Project Design for nonprofits. You can learn at your own pace and ask me anything in our live sessions and in our members only community. Find out more and enroll via this link:

If you would like simple steps to set up and organise your finance & admin foundations guidance by me, you can get a bundle of six simple and short workshops here:

Want to know more and ask questions?

If you want to discuss this more – jump into my nonprofit support community and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!

Here is how you can join my free nonprofit support community

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