3 Nonprofit Strategic Planning Templates

3 Nonprofit Strategic Planning Templates

Strategic Planning Summary:

Strategic planning is a deliberate process aimed at shaping the future priorities of a nonprofit organization. It hinges on the active involvement of key stakeholders, such as staff members, significant donors, strategic volunteers, and the board, who collectively evaluate the nonprofit’s mission and vision. The objective is to discern and prioritize the most crucial actions required for advancing these objectives over the next 3-5 years, achieved through the establishment of foundational strategic pillars, objectives, and key performance indicators (often referred to as goals, priorities, or KPIs).

For a nonprofit strategic planning process, these are the two critical deliverables: 

  1. Strategic Plan
  2. Tactical Plan
What is the difference between a Strategic Plan and a Tactical Plan?

A strategic plan and a tactical plan serve distinct roles in nonprofit planning. A strategic plan is a high-level, long-term document that outlines an organization’s overarching goals and strategies, focusing on the mission, vision, and values. It provides a broad roadmap for the organization’s future and is typically reviewed and updated periodically, covering a span of three to five years or more. Often, this document, in its end state, will be beautifully designed, showcased on the website, and used with donors, key volunteers, and influencers to cast vision and belief. 

In contrast, a tactical plan is a more detailed, short-term document that translates the strategic plan into specific tasks and activities. In other words, it’s creating an actionable workflow. It is highly specific, focuses on day-to-day, and is usually crafted for one year or less. Tactical plans provide the actionable steps necessary for executing the strategies outlined in the strategic plan.

In essence, strategic plans set the organizational direction and long-term vision, while tactical plans offer the precise guidance and actions required to achieve short-term objectives, making both types of plans crucial components of effective organizational planning and execution.

Important Insight about  Strategic Planning:

The typical strategic planning process employed by many consultants in the nonprofit sector results in an aesthetically pleasing PDF document that is presented to the board and potential donors. However, most do not include a Tactical Plan that encompasses change management strategies and well-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Having a strategic plan alone is insufficient; it must be complemented by a tactical plan featuring clear timelines and measurable benchmarks. When engaging a consultant to lead your nonprofit’s strategic planning process, it is crucial to request examples of tactical plans they have previously assisted in creating.

3 Nonprofit Strategic Planning Templates

At Catapult, we emphasize the creation of winning strategies over mere strategic plans. We believe it is not enough for a plan to merely look impressive on paper; there must be a seamless integration between a visually appealing Strategic Plan that gives a roadmap for success and a well-executed Tactical Plan that ensures success.

To assist nonprofit organizations in this endeavor, below are three templates that have proven valuable for many. 

As every nonprofit organization is unique, with its distinct opportunities, challenges, mission, and DNA, each strategic plan is inherently distinctive. The purpose here is to provide you with 3 template models on how to approach your planning process before delving into the specifics. A visual of each strategic planning model that incorporates both Design and Accountability in included, recognizing that both elements are essential for effectively implementing your strategic plan. 

After all, what good is a winning strategy on paper if there is no effective mechanism to bring it to life?

Catapult Strategic Planning Template
The design blocks of the Catapult Strategic Planning Template:
  1. Vision
    The Catapult strategic planning model begins with the foundational element: your Vision, which represents a distant horizon guiding everything below it. What sets this model apart is its deliberate approach to steering an organization toward a preferred future (vision) with intentionality rather than relying on chance.
  2. 3-5 Year Strategies
    Moving forward, you transition to the 3-5 Year Strategies, which provide high-level summaries of your qualitative and quantitative goals. These serve as a broad roadmap for your organization’s aspirations, giving four foundational pillars for your strategy.
  3. Annual “Keystone” Must Win Goal
    Beneath these strategies, you define one Annual “Keystone” Must Win Goal. This is a unique fixture of this planning process and serves as a clever and sophisticated method for rallying the entire organization towards a goal where every member contributes significantly, exerting an outsized influence on progress across various strategic areas. It operates somewhat akin to a domino effect; once this Annual Goal is achieved, it sets off a chain reaction of strategic progress.
  4. 90-Day Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
    Lastly, you pinpoint your 90-Day Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These represent the specific actions you will take to reach your Annual Must Win Goal, always with an eye towards the larger strategic pillar to which it is attached. These emphasize the importance of measurability in tracking progress and holding team members accountable to advancing the mission.

The accountability mechanisms of the Catapult Strategic Planning Template:
  1. Weekly Check-ins:
    These check-ins revolve around the 90-Day Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and entail KPI owners delivering quick progress updates. The purpose is to keep these items on the front-burner. While a Weekly Check-in is encouraged, the model can function without them.
  2. Monthly Reviews:
    The Monthly Reviews are designed to help team members track progress towards the Annual Objectives and are longer check-ins. Goal owners’ updates contribute to an understanding of how everyone is moving forward and highlight any obstacles that need to be overcome.
  3. Quarterly Refresh:
    During the Quarterly Refresh, the KPIs from the previous quarter are reviewed and the new 90-Day KPIs are established. This phase also involves designating the responsible “owner” for each goal.
  4. Annual Reviews:
    Annual Reviews are likewise centered on the Annual Objectives, occurring at the conclusion of the timeframe. A chunk of time is spent debriefing the learning from the previous goal before setting the new Annual “Keystone” Must Win. These reviews involve a critical decision point regarding whether to mark an Annual Objective as completed or to carry it forward into the next year.
Catapult Strategic Planning Template Summary 

This Strategic Planning Template integrates a vision-driven approach with clear, intentional progression. It begins with the Vision, guiding the organization’s strategic layers. From there, leaders define high-level 3-5 Year Strategies and an Annual “Keystone” Must Win Goal, acting as a catalyst for organizational progress. To ensure accountability and progress, Weekly Check-ins and Monthly Reviews against KPIs and Annual Objectives keep everyone on track. The Quarterly Refresh fine-tunes the strategy in real time, while Annual Reviews provide a crucial decision point for completing or rolling over Annual Objectives. This model combines vision with practicality, creating a dynamic roadmap for a nonprofit’s success. Finally, nonprofit leads are not left to choose between a Strategic Plan or a Tactical Plan that activates your strategy into day-to-day workflow. This comprehensive planning process includes both.

OKR Strategic Planning Template
The Design blocks of the OKR Strategic Planning Template:
  1. Objectives:
    In the context of organizational planning, Objectives represent the specific outcomes that an entity aims for during the current quarter. These objectives are essentially the milestones or targets that define success for that period, offering a clear sense of purpose and direction for the team’s efforts. These are sometimes referred to as lead indicators.
  2. Key Results:
    Key Results are tangible, quantifiable metrics that provide a numerical assessment of progress toward the stated Objectives. These metrics serve as a means of objectively measuring success and tracking performance. Key Results offer valuable insights into the effectiveness of the strategies in place, helping teams make data-driven adjustments as they work toward achieving their Objectives. These are sometimes referred to as lag indicators.
  3. Initiatives:
    Initiatives are the actionable tasks or projects strategically aligned with achieving the Key Results. They represent the practical steps and efforts undertaken to directly influence and contribute to the achievement of desired outcomes. Initiatives act as the operational components of the overall strategy, outlining the specific actions and tactics necessary to make measurable progress and, ultimately, achieve the defined Key Results.
The Accountability mechanisms of the OKR Strategic Planning Template:
  1. Weekly Check-Ins:
    Weekly Check-Ins, integral to the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) management framework, provide a structured platform for meticulous Key Result assessments. Team members should scrutinize their confidence levels in what they are working on, dissect action plan progress intricacies, and exchange insights on overall advancement. This fosters proactive OKR execution, facilitating swift issue identification and timely adjustments. All of this ensures that stakeholders maintain alignment and in-depth awareness of evolving OKR dynamics.
  2. Quarterly Review:
    The Quarterly Review, an evaluation mechanism within OKR, subjects each Objective to an assessment, yielding a numerical “score” (typically 0 to 10) that encapsulates multifaceted achievement status. This process sparks intricate deliberations determining the trajectory for each Objective in the upcoming quarter. This includes refinement, continuation, or discontinuation. This also ensures an agile OKR strategy capable of addressing intricate circumstances and priorities that are regularly evolving.

OKR Strategic Planning Template Summary 

The OKR (Objectives and Key Results) model, as discussed in the points above, is a structured approach to goal-setting and performance measurement. The key to the process is stringent Weekly Check-ins and reviews, which introduces a level of administrative overhead for individuals and teams. One potential downside in the model is the Quarterly Refresh can lead to frequent changes in objectives, potentially disrupting ongoing day-to-day work. Finally, the Annual Reviews require thorough assessment and decision-making regarding the continuation or adjustment of objectives, adding a formalized process to the annual planning cycle.

Balanced Scorecard Template

The design blocks of the Balanced Scorecard Template:
  1. Four Perspectives
    These serve as focus areas for growth for the nonprofit and can be internally focused or externally focused. Sometimes they act as fulcrums for strategy, sometimes they are important projects within the organization that will take several years to build out (such as team culture, new board structure, etc). The perspectives are meant to complement each other in a holistic way and “balance” each other out.
  2. Strategic Objectives
    This is an articulation of the strategy of the perspective it is attached to. This should include specific, measurable outcomes of what success looks like for this strategic objective if progress is being made.
  3. Projects
    The project operates as a kind of workflow for different pieces of the strategy. It outlines the specific initiatives, timelines, ownership and allocated resources necessary to achieve the goals outlined in the strategic objective.
  4. KPIs
    These are the key measurables that are lag indicators of whether the strategic objective it is attached to is moving forward. If the strategic objective has the lead indicators that the plan is working, the KPIs are the more granular measurables that indicate all of the work will tip the scale for the strategic objectives success.
The accountability mechanisms of the Balanced Scorecard Template: 
  1. Strategy Dashboards
    This offers an invaluable tool for keeping everyone in the loop, enabling you to visualize real-time progress and keep an eye on your key objectives, projects, and KPIs effortlessly. Preferably this would be mapped out and trackable through a project management platform like Monday, Asana, Trello, BaseCamp or whatever your nonprofit is currently using.
  2. Weekly or Monthly Reports
    These reports provide a structured way for team members to share their progress updates and lay out short-term action plans, fostering collaboration and transparency. Typically these can be downloaded from your project management platform, turned into a PDF, and shared with the wider team. In a meeting setting, this includes commentary and status updates from the owner of the action items.
  3. The Strategy Map
    This serves as a visual compass, revealing the interconnectedness of the four perspectives and the cause-and-effect relationships between your strategic objectives. This is meant to guide your organization towards a more cohesive and effective strategy implementation.
Final Thoughts on Strategic Planning

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of starting a strategic planning process with the nonprofit you help lead, we get it! It’s an important time in the life of any nonprofit and it can be a difficult journey. We would love to help you find a guide for that process. Whether that is Catapult helping you lead this journey or pointing you to a better fit, we would love to serve you.

Want to hear more about our Strategic Planning process for Nonprofits?

Schedule a Call Directly to Our Calendar

Download the Informational Prospectus on our Strategic Planning Process

5 Shifts to Increase Generosity in Your Church

5 Shifts to Increase Generosity in Your Church

For the last 50 years, pastors have been running an identical playbook for funding the local church. And every year, it gets harder.

Despite the fact that we live in a very different world, with all kinds of new technology, massive cultural change and numerous other things, many churches are still running the same play.

The information in this resource represents the culmination of 30 years of research working with thousands of churches. While there is not a “one size fits all” when it comes to generosity culture, in our experience, these are the 5 areas that will certainly move the needle.

Here are 5 important shifts to build a culture of generosity in your church:

Typical communication about money in the church avoids the spiritual nuance of Jesus’ teachings on the topic and leans toward words like, “We are 5% behind budget so far this year” or “let’s be generous because the church needs a new roof.”

Don’t hear us wrong – we LOVE a good church budget meeting or a well executed capital campaign [it’s how half our team brings home the bacon].

Information and appeal have their place but if our conversations about money primarily revolve around need, we’ve missed a massive discipleship opportunity.

As pastors, it is critical to shift from the “money talk” that centers on what the organization needs to stay afloat or what program needs funding. Our language needs to more consistently reflect the truth that generosity is a spiritual growth lens that impacts every part of the life of the believer.

Top Tip:

Call your people to be generous to other causes beyond the church. It quiets the internal alarm that most Millennials and Gen Zers have when talking about money and helps your people see you’re not just running a “bate and switch” by asking for all their $$$.

Most generous Christians learn their convictions about money from parents, family, or close friends. Very few experience transformation primarily by the public teaching of the church.

That means one of 2 things:

1. Either we aren’t communicating about money from the pulpit very often.


2. When we do communicate about money from the pulpit, it’s not effective.

[In our opinion, it’s a little of both…]

The way forward in developing generosity has more to do with conversation and relationship and less about “Let’s deliver a sermon on generosity again to inspire people to give more.”

Top Tip:

Take your top giver out to coffee and ask them who was most influential in shaping their posture towards giving and the specifics they learned from that person. Listen and make notes on what you learn about their philosophy of giving.

A vague one-size-fits-all challenge to be generous is not as helpful as a customized approach for people at various stages of their Christian maturity.

A person who has yet to give needs a decidedly different message than a long time Christian who has longstanding habits of generosity.

They both are in a discipleship journey but at vastly different places on the path. We need to start where people are located, not guilt or shame there for not being at our chosen destination for them out of the gate.

Top Tip:

Take 5 minutes and jot down some key talking points you would use with someone who had never tithed before, but wanted to grow. Now, do the same for someone who gives over 20% of their income to ministries. How would you encourage them differently to stretch in their generosity?

If we’re telling pastors, teachers, and small group leaders to “not talk about money stuff”, we will not see our congregations grow in generosity.

Most members of churches see the “business office” personnel as the primary link regarding giving. The management of money (Finance & Stewardship Department) is often siloed from the spiritual formation value of generous living (Pastoral and Discipleship Department). This makes it nearly impossible to build a culture of generosity.

Top Tip:

Coach and empower your financial team to see how their role can be leveraged to disciple your people. At the same time train your pastors to know how to talk about money and stewardship with your people.

Churches need effective and up-to-date methods of encouraging people toward generosity. This is about messaging, technology, generational shifts and more.

Many churches maintain systems for a world that doesn’t exist anymore. Instead of being the pioneers of culture, we’ve become late adopters.

Top Tip:

Send time educating yourself with new forms of giving such as: digital currency and donor advised funds. Find an expert who can unpack different ways people are donating their assets and not just cash.

Increase your giving by 12% in 12 months or your money back.

Churches in the FUEL Funding Lab who have integrated our proven strategic practices and do not experience a 12% increase in their annual giving within a year of completing the Lab will be entitled to a full refund. That's how strongly we believe in the results of this process!

Schedule a video call right now to

hear more about the FUEL Funding Lab:

5 Essential Ingredients of a Nonprofit Strategic Plan

5 Essential Ingredients of a Nonprofit Strategic Plan

Catapult’s Strategic Planning Secret Sauce – The 5 Essential Ingredients of a Winning Strategy

There is a cruel irony in being a successful leader of an organization. Your experience, expertise and knowledge can become a curse.

Organizational psychologist and Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant writes in his book
Originals, “The more expertise and experience people gain, the more entrenched they become in a particular way of viewing the world…As we gain knowledge about a domain, we become prisoners of our prototypes.”

This is
The Curse of Knowledge.
Think of it this way – Your own success works against you.

It’s as if your triumphs conspire against your creativity. The very domain you’ve come to know intimately transforms into a gilded cage, stifling your creative thinking and imaginative
problem solving. Ironically, what you need most from someone leading your strategic planning process is not a seasoned sage of your industry:

You need someone who can serve as a strategic outsider.

Someone who can adapt seamlessly to any sector, with expertise centered on guiding the strategic planning process. Our Vision Integrator is specifically designed to help you defeat the Curse of Knowledge by bringing an outsider’s perspective, fresh insights and a collaborative process built for finding innovation.

In strategic planning, the only thing that we can count on is the inevitability that the world will change.

We must become adept at anticipating and adapting to a future that has yet to materialize. This proactive approach to readiness and innovation will enable us to thrive in an ever-evolving landscape.

Wayne Gretzky is, undoubtedly, the greatest hockey player of all time and one of the greatest athletes who ever lived. When he was asked why he was such a remarkable player, he said it had little to do with his natural talent or raw athleticism. He boiled it down to one simple thing:

           “I skate to where the puck is going to be,
            not where it has been.”

What made Gretzky great was an ability to see the future before it arrived yet. That is exactly what a good strategic plan should do.

“Perfection is the enemy of progress.”

Winston Churchill

The Pareto Principle states that 20% of your time, energy and resources will produce 80% of your results. In other words, find the right twenty percent to focus your energy on rather than trying to find the perfect solution.

In a world marked by constant change and resource constraints, two essentials emerge: the need for a strategic plan that focus your energy for maximum impact and the ability for that plan to remain flexible.

A pivotal moment in organizational development occurred with the creation of StratOps, a comprehensive strategic planning process developed collaboratively with Disney and Tom Patterson. Its profound impact on both for-profit and nonprofit sectors cannot be overstated. Over the past 30 years, whether organizations employed the formal StratOp method, turned to other consultants like McKinsey, or utilized another strategic planning tool, chances are they were working with some iteration of the original.

The issue is that these strategic planning processes create a perfect plan, with endless minutia. The result: a 70+ page binder that gathers dust on a shelf while the world changes.

Our planning process will help you find the right 20% to achieve the greatest return on your investment of time and energy. It’s also flexible, practical and pragmatic, so that as things change, you have the flexibility to adapt.

Scienus believes that communal genius is far more powerful than individual genius. It believes that the best work doesn’t come from a lone genius locked in a room. It comes from a group of highly committed people chasing after the same mission together.


              Scenius > Genius.


Think about it like this: Brian Eno is one of the most successful, behind-the-scenes creatives in the last 200 years, but only a handful of people know who he is. While he has released a few music albums of his own, his real contribution comes through being a music producer, a harrowing role of shepherding a project from inspiration to completion. He’s produced albums for U2, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Coldplay, David Byrne, James Blake and a host of others.

When reflecting on the creative process, he noticed that it wasn’t one genius at the center of it, it was something else:

“There were … scenes involving lots and lots of people – some of them artists, some of them collectors, some of them curators, thinkers, theorists, people who were fashionable and knew what the hip things were – all sorts of people who created a kind of ecology of talent. And out of that ecology arose some wonderful work. So I came up with this word ‘scenius’ – the intelligence of a whole operation or group of people. I think that’s a more useful way to think about culture.

The Vision Integrator Process is all about ensuring that the right individuals are present in the room, thereby allowing us to harness and curate the collective intelligence of your organization.

We want to make sure you have the right stakeholders in the room from your staff, donors and board. By involving this diverse array of voices and perspectives, we believe your strategic plan will not only be more comprehensive but also more robust and effective, owing to the collaborative and collective effort invested in its creation.

Rather than building a plan we hope people will like and feel compelled by, why not built it with them? The benefits of this collaborative approach extends well beyond mere buy-in. It’s akin to nurturing a garden. When you play a role in cultivating a garden, you’re not just tending to it for the sake of it; you want it to flourish, reflect your care and enjoy the fruit of its success.

Vision Casting and Change Management inherently grafted into the process alongside the individuals who hold the utmost significance for the plan’s success.

One consistent observation we hear is how leaders are pleasantly surprised by the seamless activation of their plan and the substantial momentum it gains. Why does this happen? Because the very people who need to be energized were actively involved in its creation.

Our team has worked with 1300+ nonprofits.
We know there is a difference between having a strategic plan and having a winning strategy.

Want to hear more about our Strategic Planning process for Nonprofits?

Schedule a Call Directly to Our Calendar

Download the Informational Prospectus on our Strategic Planning Process

Top 4 Reasons Nonprofit Strategic Plans Fail

Top 4 Reasons Nonprofit Strategic Plans Fail

Despite best efforts of nonprofit leaders, many times a strategic plan fails to deliver the goods.

It’s hard enough to get a gifted and capable team to align around a plan, so there are very few things more frustrating for a leader on an Executive Team than when the plan falls flat.

We’ve been there too! It sucks all the oxygen out of the room and feels like you’re stuck on a merry-go-round going nowhere. If we can know what those reasons are ahead of time, it could help you avoid those common misfires. We’ve worked with over 1300+ nonprofits and here are the most common reasons we’ve seen.

These are the reasons why strategic plans don’t work:

1. The Plan was Built for a World that No Longer Exists

As you’ve recently experienced, it’s possible to construct a great plan and the world can render it obsolete in just a couple of weeks. But what’s even more common? “Change by a thousand papercuts.” The world is constantly changing and reinventing and we can wake up one morning have a useless plan in our hands.

The world has changed significantly in the last 15 years, but largely, the process for strategic planning for even the highest impact nonprofits has stayed the same.

2. The Plan Was Inflexible

Perhaps the only assumption we can make with one hundred perfect accuracy is that change is coming. However, some of the most used strategic planning methods build wonderfully constructed “hard plans.” If the world changes, the plan breaks. Leaders need a process for planning and a deliverable that can flex and anticipate changes. We need something antifragile.

3. The Plan didn’t have Concrete Measurables

While the best strategic plans are flexible, they also include measurable goals that are “chunked out” as they go. Plans that lack these key performance indicators (KPI’s) tend to find teams with decreased motivation, a lack of focus, and confusion as to how to make confident decisions towards their vision.

4. The Plan Didn’t Fully Launch

Harvard Business Review recently shared that somewhere between 60-90% of strategic plans never fully launch. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but in our experience, it’s a combination of three critical things: Missing accountability structures, Dispersed power centers that aren’t aligned on the plan, and The Plan activation itself started with a whimper rather than a bang. A winning strategic planning process must account for all three of these things.

Want to hear more about our Strategic Planning process for Nonprofits?

Schedule a Call Directly to Our Calendar

Download the Informational Prospectus on our Strategic Planning Process

Free Ebook: The Future of Nonprofit Growth

Free Ebook: The Future of Nonprofit Growth

What do comedians, razor blades, best sellers and bracelets all tell us about the future of nonprofits? Well, they give us a window into understanding how nonprofits grow.

In this free ebook, we’ll take a journey through several surprising (and often, funny!) social movements before introducing the Scalability Tool. Over the last several years this tool has been one of the most talked about and useful innovations we’ve introduced to the CEO’s and Executive Directors we have the pleasure of serving.