August 26, 2021

When is it Time for A New Strategic Plan?

Imagine this exchange between a nonprofit CEO and a strategy consultant: CEO: “We need a strategic plan.” Consultant: “Why do you need one now?” CEO: “Because our current one expires at the end of the year.” Let’s unpack this. First, strategy does not come with an expiration date. Nor is progress toward a strategic vision […]


August 11, 2021

“Don’t Just Do Something…”

There is a conundrum of sorts surrounding strategic planning; First, nonprofits need to be strategic. Second, organizational planning is important. And yet, strategic planning is ineffective for many nonprofits. Why is this so? I argue that it is because most strategic plans lack a mechanism for categorizing and sorting the various activities that will move […]


July 20, 2021

Strategy as Governance

“Tell me and I will forget. Teach me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand.” Typically, board training focuses on the first two parts of this ancient wisdom. We tell board members what they should do, which they are likely to forget. Or we teach them best practices that they are likely […]


June 21, 2021

The Roots of Strategic Frustration

It is difficult to write this introductory paragraph without repeating hackneyed phrases about strategic plans sitting on various shelves around the country gathering dust…while consultants continue to cash checks. If there is any topic around which nonprofits can reach consensus, it is the futility of strategic planning. The prevailing sentiment is that the idea of […]


June 02, 2021

Strategy Execution: It Starts with Good Plumbing

Imagine yourself walking into the kitchen of a new home and turning on the faucet, and nothing happens. You then go to the bathroom and it’s the same. Beautiful fixtures but no water. When you ask about the problem, you are told that to cut costs, the homebuilder did not include the plumbing. Consequently, you […]


May 12, 2021

Words of Praise for My Latest Book, Nonprofit Strategy: A Phased-Based Approach to Impact, Relevance, and Sustainability

From the Foreword, provided by Susan Kenny Stevens: Mike Stone’s book, and its practical, nuanced approach, arrives on the scene just as nonprofits face one of the most challenging times in recent history.  Navigating the future, near- and longer-term, is what this book is about. For his lifecycle framework, Stone uses my book Nonprofit Lifecycles, […]


April 27, 2021

Is Strategy Baked into Your Cake?

First things first: planning is easy; strategic thinking is demanding; both are important. And I love cake. Planning is a rational process whereby we attempt to exercise some degree of control over our world by establishing goals, objectives, and timelines to guide our work. Planning is episodic and finite, a bit like following a recipe […]


March 18, 2021

Is Your Nonprofit Anchored?

We have all seen the inflatable air dancers flailing about in front of car dealerships. These creatures are a fitting metaphor for the experience of the nonprofit organization. Both must remain nimble, as they are continually responding to the changing external conditions. More important, neither can control or predict the inevitable shifts in the direction […]


March 10, 2021

It’s Time to Swat the SWOT

In a recent conversation with a nonprofit board of directors, I asked how much they knew about the history of the organization: its founding purpose, its programmatic evolution, and the logic behind the significant decisions it had made along the way. Their responses were mixed, as you would expect. The most unexpected response came in […]


February 26, 2021

Does Data Inhibit Strategic Thinking?

Data analysis is over-rated in nonprofit strategy development. The mere mention of a SWOT analysis makes me cringe. It’s not that I object to the idea behind it (which, in simple terms, is to make sure you know what is going on around you). The cringe is the result of my personal experience wading through […]


Need Additional Assistance?

If you are interested in going deeper into your nonprofit strategy or if you wish to review your organizational strategy more broadly, click the link below to schedule a 30-minute phone or zoom consultation with Mike Stone.

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