“I’m a new Development Director and my organization will be going through a strategic planning process this fall. What should my role be and how can I be best prepared for the process?”

First of all, congratulations on your new role and kudos for asking great questions!

First, as the Development Director, you will serve as the lead voice on the role philanthropy can play in the accomplishment of your organization’s strategic goals. As such, be sure you have taken the time to understand your organization’s current culture around fundraising.  Does your organization have a Fundraising Culture or a Culture of Philanthropy?  Take a look at Beyond Fundraising: What does it mean to build a Culture of Philanthropy? by Cynthia M Gibson and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund for some insights on both.  Then determine your own thoughts about how to best align your fundraising efforts to meet the organization’s goals.

Also, as a Development Director, you will often serve as the voice of the donors for your organization. Hopefully, you have a good sense of their interests and shared values of your organization. If not, schedule several donor calls prior to your planning process and ask them what they would like to see the organization focus on in the next few years. You also may want to consider sending out a donor survey to assess donor interest and aspirations for your mission.

Beyond these preparation tips, we suggest you review your organization’s previous strategic plan and familiarize yourself with what was and wasn’t accomplished.  Discuss your findings and observations with your Executive Director and discuss their goals and objectives for the strategic planning process.