Make a Plan to Plan

Organizations considering their annual planning exercise should take time to pre-plan their planning to ensure its success.

Whether a single day session, a leadership retreat, or a process conducted over a period of several months, investing in pre-plan work will pay dividends.

Almost-certain obstacles—such as scheduling conflicts, lack of participation, and not-so-positive results from past planning—can be resolved. Incorporating advance focus on event details will contribute to buy-in by your planning team, which in turn will generate increased engagement.

Pre-planning provides a more organized approach that will make your activity more effective through efficient the use of time, which people will appreciate.

Develop your pre-planning process with this checklist:

• What is the most productive window of time that the final plan should cover?
• What is the schedule for completing the planning activity?

• Who should be on the team to plan and coordinate participant activities?
• What stakeholder groups should be solicited for input?
• What additional resources (time, people, facilities, and budget) are needed?
• How will you successfully secure participation commitment?
• Should you engage an outside facilitator? If so, the facilitator should do the necessary research to be knowledgeable about the organization, be familiar with the backgrounds of participants, and know the ideal outcome.

• What format works best for your participants?
• What needs to be done to make sure participants are prepared?
• Will you get best results from your participants by getting away from the office and working in a retreat setting, or will a few hours in an office conference room be adequate?

• Who will develop advance surveys to identify consensus on topics and challenges to be addressed?
• Will your team react more favorably to a strictly all-business session? For example, do you need teambuilding or other activities?

What other beneficial elements can you think of that will add to your pre-planning checklist?

Planning on the front end creates an intentional approach that stimulates enthusiasm among participants and creates a foundation for planning success.

Remember: achieving productive planning should be a priority for every organization.


Successful nonprofits can’t afford not to plan. What else should be considered when planning to plan? Share your ideas below. 

Popular tags on this blog

Related Articles