Organizational Planning

Running a Non-Profit Organization

An organizational plan is basically a “to do” list for an organization. It lists out the plan of work, programs, and organizational growth over a period of time - six months, a year, a five years. They can be pretty simple to create and use. Writing a plan can just mean getting a clear list of the types of work that need to be done, the tasks involved, who is responsible for them, and when they’ll be done. Below is an outline of the steps for creating an organizational plan.

Decide on Categories. 

First, think about all the work that your organization does, and list out the general categories—for example, Fundraising, Community Outreach, Website, and so on. Some big categories might be split up—for example, dividing Fundraising into ‘Foundation Grants’ and ‘Grassroots Fundraising.’

Set Goals. 

Second, make sure the goals for your work in each category are clear. Ask yourselves, “Where do we want to be with this work in a year?” Example: Fundraising: Raise $8000.

Set Tasks. 

 Next, discuss each goal and talk about all the tasks that need to be done to achieve that goal. At this point, they don’t have to be in order. Some will be more specific than others; the more specific the better, in general. You may not know how to reach some goals, yet; it’s fine to have a task list that looks like “Get fundraising training. Create fundraising plan and schedule. Carry out plan.”

Plan a Schedule. 

 When all the tasks are listed, number them to show a general order—what comes first, what should happen at the same time, what comes last? Then draft a schedule for the tasks—either when they will be completed, or (for ongoing tasks) when they will begin. The goal is to set a schedule that is challenging but realistic.

Choose Responsibilities. 

Assign responsibilities by asking people to volunteer to be responsible for goals or tasks. A person’s name next to a task doesn’t mean that they’ll do it—just that they take responsibility for making sure it gets done. The goal here is to make sure everyone has enough responsibility to challenge them, without so much work that they will burn out. If nobody is willing to volunteer for a particular task, ask the group if it is really necessary to do it. If the group decides that it is, try to break it down into smaller tasks that might be easier to take on.


 Brainstorm other individuals and organizations that can provide support, assistance or advice in helping you carry out particular tasks or achieve general goals.

Follow through. 

 Come up with a plan to check in, support and encourage people as they carry out their tasks. This may mean choosing one person to regularly check on the status of different tasks, or it may be part of reporting back at meetings.

Plan Evaluation. 

Finally, set a time to revisit the whole plan as a group to evaluate how things are going and revise assignments and schedules. This may be a few months or half a year in the future.

A plan can help you:

  • Set priorities for your work
  • Make sure tasks get done on time
  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Share work among staff, board members and volunteers
  • Make your goals clear to funders
  • Get a handle on big projects by breaking them down into smaller tasks
  • See the big picture of what your organization is doing

What part of an organizational plan might look like:

Fundraising: Seeking Individual Donations.

Goal: Raise $ 600 by August.

  1. Research how to ask for money. April. Meg and Tyrone.
  2. Ask stores for donations. May-July. Rachel.
  3. Write letters for personal donations. May. Carmelita and Meg.
  4. Send donation letters. June. Carmelita.
  5. Record and deposit donations. May-ongoing. Tyrone.
  6. Send thank-you letters. July-August. Meg and Rachel.