Strategic planning comes before budgeting. The treasurer should be involved in the overall business planning, which involves defining or clarifying future directions and setting medium and long-term goals.
Not-for-profit organisations need to be clear about why they exist and what they want to achieve. This may sound obvious, but it is easy to become driven by your budget, rather than your budget serving your organisation's mission. Your business plan - and your budget - should be living documents, frequently reviewed and updated if necessary.
Your planning could include a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, which is a review of where you stand and what you face as an organisation.
This evaluation may identify issues of concern or highlight new areas for growth.
Once you have examined your own organisation, take a look at the environment in which your organisation operates. Are there any factors, such as interest rates, new legislation or changing demographics that will impact on your organisation, either positively or negatively? If your environment has changed, what can you do to adapt to these changes?
Now you have set your goals and objectives for the year, translate them into an action plan. This process includes:
- Determining priorities
- Working out all the tasks necessary to achieve each goal
- Allocating responsibilities for each task
- Setting a timeframe and deadline for each task.
Deadlines need to be realistic or they will be ignored. Some organisations set an end date for a desired goal and plan backwards. Others work forward, assigning dates for the completion of a task, culminating in the end goal.
Questions to aid planning:
- Does your organisation have a defined organisation structure - and do your members, volunteers and staff understand it?
- Are your controls and procedures communicated and understood?
- What are your greatest internal and external threats?
- Have you undertaken a risk analysis?
- Do you have written procedures for all key areas?
- Do you circulate audits and reviews?
- What procedures do you have for reporting discrepancies?
Adapted from National Council of Volunteer Organisations, UK