A strategic plan allows us, as the people you've elected to govern the City, to be proactive, future-focused, and action-ready.
In our last term of office, it took Mayor and Council 11 months to complete a strategic planning process.
At the beginning of the strategic planning process, I presented the following report and recommendation to Council. Governance and Priorities Report, January 26th 2015RecommendationThat Council adopt the following strategic planning process.
SummaryThe objective of the strategic planning process is to end up with a concrete strategic plan that will guide the decisions of Council and the work of staff for the next four years.
In order to have a plan with concrete outcomes that reflects the will of council and the aspirations of the public, we need to do three things.
Strategic Planning Warm-Up with Tracey LorensonA facilitated session with Tracey Lorenson to agree on some high level principles for working together, develop a sense of what a strategic plan is and what we want it to do, and begin to discuss high-level goals.
Section 1 Where We Are and Where We’re Going A facilitated discussion to flesh out the problems we’d like to solve and some agreement on the desired reality we’d like to get to. Objective:Come to agreement about what is wrong and where we would like to take the City, at a very high level (agree on a shared goal) in the next four years. If our answer to number two is the current reality, then, in one sentence, what is our desired reality? Sections 2 and 3 Big Dreams and Reality Check and Learning From Elsewhere A facilitated discussion led to flesh out everyone’s big ideas, blue sky scenarios, as well as small things we’d like to see. If the City of Victoria had all the time and all the resources in the world what would we do?
A facilitated discussion to bring everything together into high-level concrete outcomes and actions. Section 4 Passions, Outcomes and Concrete Actions (Part 2)A facilitated discussion to bring everything together into high-level concrete outcomes and actions. I would like to know what concrete plans the city has for solving the homeless problem that particularly plagues those with addiction and mental health challenges.
We are a wealthy and beautiful city that disguises a shadowy problem of tremendous suffering. This is usually the reaction our team at Veritus Group gets, when we tell MGOs that this will be one of the first things they need to do if they want to become successful with us.
Today, I’m going to go over a step-by-step process on how to put together a strategic plan for each donor.
Once MGOs start working on this process, they realize that not only is it possible, but it’s necessary for them to stay on task and become successful.
Review the month each donor’s revenue is expected to come in — then work three months backwards. At least quarterly, send “you made a difference” (YMAD) pieces to everyone on your caseload — plug those in for every donor.
Twice a year, you want to report on specific programs your donors are funding with a report from the field — Those will be sent at different times depending on when donors gave their gifts. Bi-yearly thank you calls — These are calls you make in addition to thanking any donor on your caseload file who gave a gift. Bi-yearly “I know you” communications — These are notes or e-mail links or even cut-out magazine or newspaper articles your donors have an interest in.
Cultivation face-to-face visits — Not every face-to-face visit should involve a solicitation. Event invites and donor-view trips to see your programs in action — You should consider at least once per year inviting your caseload donor to see your programs in action. Okay, these are the main overall strategies that you need to create over a 12-month period for your caseload.
Or, if you are a one-person shop, they would all be reminders to yourself that you need to get this completed in order for you to get it out in February. You may still be asking yourself, “Is this worth it?” My answer is a resounding, “YES!!” In almost every case where MGOs initially complain to us about having to go through this process, they come back and tell us this is the greatest tool for them to stay on track and ultimately be successful.
Your blogs inspire me every day to be better than I was yesterday in keeping my work donor-centered.
I have served as a VP for Advancement for over 20 years and currently serve as senior gifts officer for my current university (where I served more than 14 years as VP for Advancement). Because I find all your articles so full of great tips I would love to have all of your White Papers -- I'm planning to write my CFRE this Fall so I appreciate everything! I was recently promoted, and the main bulk of my time now will be spent on formalizing and implementing a Major Gifts program. I love reading your emails, it inspires me and makes me realise that others have the same challenges. Thank you for your terrific blog--it is very helpful to me in my work as a Director of Development.
Your abilities to continually write articles that cover important facets of the fundraising world never cease to amaze me! Your white papers are excellent, well written and invaluable as our organization is finally investing in some major gift officers.
Your blog consistently provides the most valuable content for me as a one-person fund development department needing MGO orientation. Our partners at Veritus helped us to get better organized and approach our major gifts fundraising in a practical way.
My colleague and I both subscribe to your blog, and discuss each post when it arrives in our respective in-boxes. I absolutely love your blog, it is really helping me get further in my job and in my work, thank you so much for all that you do. Your blog is the best one I know of for fundraising professionals and I love that you post your updates on Facebook so that I never miss them! I often forward your posts to colleagues and identify you as my "favorite fundraising bloggers." Keep being awesome! You guys have created the single most valuable resource for fundraising I have found in ~ 30 years in the field. At our non-profit, we talk about your blog nearly everyday and are grateful for your posts. Your website is such a huge help to me as the executive director of an education foundation. I want you to know that of the 5 or so development-specific blogs I subscribe to, yours is the one I read almost every day without fail - and more to the point, I read them with great appreciation. Although I've been in development for many years, my current position is the first one that provides the opportunity to seek major gifts. I learn a lot from the blogs I receive from Veritus Group - thank you for sharing your experience, knowledge, & wisdom.
I've been enjoying and benefiting from your blog for the last two years - I was turned on to it by a colleague. Thank you for your practical advice -- I see you as two very important partners in my work to raise funds for my organization. I'm a Marketing & Development Director at a small non-profit (5 full time staff, $900,000 budget).

I am new to the Development business and your posts have helped me and my department tremendously! Please keep up the great work - I make all my team read your post over coffee each morning and it is great for creating conversations at team meetings. I enjoy and value your posts and try to gently share your words with my development officers. I learned more about major gifts from your blogs than I have from a book, training, or a development leader. I "have coffee" with you every morning and look forward to your straight-up information -- always right on the money. Your advice has been terrific and a good fit with what I know to be true about building meaningful relationships with donors. I really appreciate your white papers and the blog -- so helpful to those of us in smaller shops building our major donor programs. Finding higher level Development help is hard to find, so I appreciate your blog and public information. Giving by #donors will increase if you take the time to relate, connect their passions to your mission.
In May 2013, many of the full-time staff of the Student Centers went through StrengthsFinder training with Human Resources LAPD facilitators Robyn Madar and Rick Holt.  Through this experience we learned more about the many strengths we have as a team and what we can do to incorporate these strengths into our daily work.
In each edition of this newsletter, we will highlight one of these strengths and the members of our team who had that strength as one of their top five. Randy Harp did a superb job sharing much of his acquired wisdom in the area of strategic planning for churches in a break-out session at the 2015 BBFI Fall meeting at High Street Baptist Church (Springfield, MO). Suggested reading: Advanced Strategic Planning (Malphurs), Visioneering (Andy Stanley), Seven Practical Practices of Effective Ministry (Andy Stanley), Eat that Frog. This entry was posted in Church and tagged church, goals, leadership, mission, mission statement, pastor, strategic planning, vision by Greg Burdine. One of the things CEOs ask consistently is how they can help foster more strategic thinking in their organizations. Growing more strategic thinkers in your organization is a blend of modeling these eight behaviours as CEO and then coaching your leaders to do the same.
Mike Desjardins is a transformation specialist at Virtus, a strategic planning and leadership development consultancy based in Vancouver for entrepreneurial business as well as public companies. We start by setting a high-level strategic goal, deciding the strategic objectives we need to pursue to achieve that goal, and then determining high-level actions that we direct our staff to implement in order to achieve these objectives. As we determine the goal, objectives and actions we'll share them with you before adopting the plan. This meant that staff went nearly a year without direction from Council as to what our strategic focus and priorities would be for the term.
Once in place, Council will review the plan on a regular basis and update it according to emerging priorities and the will of Council.
First, we need everyone on council to feel good about the strategic planning process and to feel like there is room for everyone’s ideas to be considered.
This is also a structured opportunity for people to bring ideas they’re seen work well in other places. This will loop back to where we started in order to make sure that what the things we said were ‘wrong’ in Question 1 Section 1 are addressed by the outcomes and actions we agree to. What are the concrete plans that you will and can put into place and how can, we, the citizens assist? This is the same process we use with our clients to help them overcome what they think is insurmountable.
It’s a simple Excel spreadsheet that, when you picture it, has all of the donors on the left-hand column, one by one, and all of the months of the year in a row at the top of the spreadsheet, starting with the first month of the fiscal year. Your “A” and “B” level donors could be monthly touches that are highly personalized by you. Randomly thanking donors during the course of the year will endear them to your organization. Especially for your “A” level donors, this is something to let them know YOU know them and are taking the time to recognize that. It could mean inviting them to your location just minutes from them or taking them to Uganda to see a water project they helped fund. Once you have these loaded into your system or spreadsheet, you’ll have moves associated with each strategy. For example, a few moves that come from a strategy would look something like this: Let’s say in February you are going to send a bi-yearly project report to one of your donors. All these moves should be entered into either your moves management system (like Salesforce, for instance) or your own calendar. Remember, if you want a sample template of our Marketing Impact Chart, please click here to request it. Sometimes they are just the jolt of energy I need when I feel like things in my organization are getting a little too crazy and no one understands what major gifts fundraising is really about.
I am eager to read all of your white papers to learn more; I love the advice and strategies you provide. Your wisdom, insight and experience in major donor relationships shine through your writing.
I have enjoyed your blog posts and find the information you share very helpful to my position as a leadership gift officer. Your website is great as I help Major Gift Officers understand their role and give them tangible things on which to focus. I can't tell you how much they help, motivate, and inspire me to strive to do my job to the best of my ability. It is full of fresh ideas on how to approach donors and it has made a difference in how we manage the foundation.
I find your writings to be so helpful in suggesting how I might organize priorities for starting to build major donor relationships while also keeping the many other aspects of this program in motion.
I regularly visit for refreshers on my strategy, it's a really great source of motivation and reassurance. I want to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy reading the Veritus Group Blog. If every MGO or Development Team leader followed your advice and counsel, our ministries would flourish. I've transitioned to a new charitable organization and am charged with building the fundraising program from the ground up.
I wear many hats (including program at times), but your blog helps keep things in perspective and I really appreciate all that you share! Makes me think things differently in our office and how we can make a positive change in the future. I stumbled on your site during a search a few moths ago and am SO thankful for the emails I receive from you!!
It's not easy especially since I am working with very limited resources at a tiny nonprofit, but focusing on helping the organization build a major gifts program keeps me going.
I have learned so much from you and am constantly caught off guard by the feeling that you really know me and are writing these articles just for me.

As a new leader of a growing Individual Giving team, I am grateful for this inspiring resource you produce.
They really help not only in the major donor area but for fundraising in general.I tell all my colleagues to subscribe to them. Thank you for creating interesting articles and pep talks especially for those of us who love the profession of being a Major Gift Officer.
Our church had a strategic planning session and it was the pivotal moment of our church that gave us renewed purpose. What are some gauges that should be used (examples: attendance, offerings, first time guests, 2nd time guests, involvement).
As a leader you need to be able to understand the overall corporate direction and strategy in the context of your team, and your own personal areas of responsibility.
Learn how to build alliances and partnership, both inside and outside the organization, to leverage the capabilities, networks, experience and expertise that you, your team or your organization don’t have internally.
The best strategic plan requires a framework for execution and a method for holding people accountable. We want to make sure we're creating the kind of city you elected us to and doing it in such a way that is inclusive, bold and forward-looking. This time, we've committed to completing our Strategic Plan within the first quarter of 2015. This will be the meatiest session and this is where we will actually begin to make decisions.
We at Veritus Group like to see first if the client’s donor database or moves management system has the ability to enter goals and strategy.
Smith in November, you need to put the high-level strategy starting three months prior, to set up that solicitation. If you are smart (and I know you are), you will enter those tactics or moves into either your moves management system OR simply into your calendar.
Okay, so one move would be to alert the program team in December to start putting together that report.
I read your sage advice and get that gentle reminder that it's not always me that's the crazy one in this office. I just completed a Certificate in Philanthropy Management and the blog is an excellent tool to all new people in this field. I'm also constantly amazed by how consistently your insights are spot-on (not that I should be amazed by this!) Thank you for all that you do to support the wonderful industry of fundraising! Though I have not had the luxury of working in a major gifts capacity, your articles and advice have helped shape how I will approach the role once I have reached that level in my career. My organization does not have a MGO and as Development Director, I am responsible for major donor cultivation. I have research, event and annual fund experience and some grant writing, but no major gift background so your blog is really helpful to help me learn. I have no doubt that your white papers and your ongoing blog will be most helpful to me in my pursuits.
If I ever have an opportunity to recommend your firm in my associations, I will surely do this! I think I know a few MGO's who might 'get' how this would provide a needed framework for their work and give them a push to actually create a strategy.
With 10 years of non-profit board and committee service and event fundraising, I still have plenty to learn.
On bad days you lift me up and I can now put a plan in place that makes sense and will succeed.
Thinking strategically is essentially a way of being, a mindset, a way of looking at things and linking them together. You need to understand how the industry adds value to customers and how your business differentiates its value equation from those of your competitors. Think of it like this: the strategic moves we make today are setting up the operational successes we have in the future. Leaders need to learn to analyze the risks of their decisions, both short-term and long-term.
Think of it as a project plan for your strategy with tangible actions, not vague concepts or ideas.
Leaders need to learn to prioritize, and put their energy into fewer, higher-leverage projects. A strategic plan is a 'living document' set by a board of directors – in this case Council – to guide the strategic focus of the organization for a set period of time. This way we can give clear direction to, and empower, our staff as early in the term as possible so we're not wasting time. Feel free to join us in person at City Hall or online here as we set to work creating a high-level strategic plan for our four year term.
For “A” level donors you are going to want to create personal notes with some of these, so be aware of that when you figure out your weekly schedule. So in August, you are starting to set up the meeting for November, then in September, sending a report on what her last gift did, and finally in October you send a formal proposal or prospectus to set up your face to face ask in November. Another move would be to let your communications team know that they have to create the piece from the information that program gives them, etc., etc.
6 months ago I left a job after 15 years when I realized I did not have the same ethics as my new boss and that I would not be able to work with her. So the better understanding you and your team have of the connection between corporate goals and the work they do day to day, the more likely they and you are to focus on longer-term priorities, rather than staying mired in operations and shiny objects. Not doing so leaves you vulnerable to common traps like chasing shiny objects that pull you and your team away from the core strategy, trying to tackle too many things at once or equating busy-ness with success. However, many non-profits either don’t have a good system for this, or they have nothing at all. I'm not sure how I discovered you other than by clicking a link in another blog post but I am very glad I stumbled across your company. They are looking for hard numbers and don't utilize the more subtle information research uncovers.
Seeing your decisions in the context of the overall organization, today and in the future, will help prevent a good decision today from becoming a mess you need to fix in the future. The key with the plan is to layer on levels of simplicity instead of trying to start with something complex.
The antidote to this is to equate success with success, then focus only on those core priorities that will get you there. And this is one of the reasons that MGOs, and ultimately non-profits, struggle with their major gift programs… they don’t have a plan.

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