South Florida Muslim leadership completed training on strategic planning, fourth installment in a series of six capacity building workshops conducted by Tayyab Yunus, President of Center on Muslim Philanthropy in partnership with SFL Muslim Federation. Attended by Muslim NPOs from the tri-county area, the workshop was regarded as ‘insightful’ and ‘informative’. During the 90-minute session, Tayyab Yunus focused on defining in detail what strategic planning means in the context of small non-profit organizations (e.g., local mosques) and showed the various tools that may be employed to steer an organization away from entrepreneurial or start-up phase towards a more sustainable existence.
When talking about non-profit organizations, Tayyab Yunus explained that strategic planning meant identifying problems/ challenges facing your organization and ways that will help effectively deal with them and achieve your mission. He categorized challenges using the Eisenhower Principle as -important and urgent. Both terms are quite self explanatory- important needs are the ones that if dealt with will help achieve goals; urgent on the other hand, are the needs that if ignored can have serious implications. Once the organization figures out these needs, it can devise strategies accordingly. The ultimate goal of any organization is to move from infancy to sustainability and eventually, reinvention to avoid stagnation. In this respect, ‘your strategy is what you decide you are not going to do.’
Next come the tools that can help you identify the problems/ challenges in relation to your audience and the ultimate goal. This can only be achieved if an organization is clear about its mission and what its ‘core competency’ is. One of the tools, Yunus elaborated on is ‘Theory of Change’ which if employed carefully, can help uncover your organization’s mission/vision, problems and what is required to deal with them. Other tools that can be utilized depending on what suits your organization best are the ‘Business Model Canvas’ and Rosso’s Constituency Model’.
While these models can help chart out plans for strengthening your organization, periodical auditing and and assessment of those plans is equally important. According Yunus, this process lets your organization know which strategies are helpful and should be carried on, and which ones to let go without being too much of strain on the finances and the overall progress of the organization. Tools such as SWOT and LIA (Link-Involvement-Advocacy) analyses are imperative to keep your strategies in check and your progress on the right track.