Developing a Strategic Plan
The data gathered during the comprehensive needs assessment process provides the foundation for your organization's board of directors and staff to develop a strategic plan. A strategic plan provides guidance in fulfilling the organization's mission with maximum efficiency and impact.
In order to be effective and useful, the strategic plan should articulate specific goals and describe the action steps and program resources needed to accomplish each step. As it is implemented, the strategic plan should be regularly reviewed and adjusted to ensure that the steps in implementation are completed.
By developing a strategic plan, your organization can:
- Allocate resources to address the most pressing civil legal needs of the low-income people in your service area.
- Articulate objectives and goals in terms of outcomes that can be measured and assessed.
- Ensure financial security of the organization through sound resource development.
- Preserve institutional knowledge and minimize interruptions in service by outlining a succession plan.
- Remain up-to-date with changing technologies that can improve staff performance and legal service delivery.
The American Bar Association Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid and LSC's Performance Criteria provide guidance for developing a strategic plan.
LSC’s Office of Program Performance hosted a webinar on strategic planning, a critical tool that provides strategic clarity to internal stakeholders—board members, leadership, and staff—as well as external stakeholders, including funders, community partners, and the public. Strategic planning also ensures accountability and allows organizations to focus on using their resources effectively and efficiently.
The webinar covered the following topics:
- The importance of strategic planning
- The steps involved in strategic planning
- Key participants to engage in the process
- Strategies for implementation and ways to track progress
Sample Strategic Plans
Iowa Legal Aid 2014-2017 Strategic Plan
In 2009, using a collaborative process, Iowa Legal Aid's board and staff established five work groups to develop its 2010-2014 strategic plan. It was revised and extended in 2014 for the upcoming three years, and the plan addresses:
- Board governance and resource development
- Client and community services
- Core values and communications
- Volunteer resources
Each group produced goals for its subject areas, and the goals were divided into four major areas with two priority levels:
- Responding to client needs with high-quality, high-impact services
- Ensuring a supportive and challenging work environment
- Maintaining a well-governed and well-administered organization
- Increasing financial security and resources
Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania 2011-2014 Strategic and Business Plan
Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania's strategic and business plan focused on five areas:
- Service to the client community
- Staff development
- Board development
- Resource development
- Effective management
LAF 2010 Revised Strategic Plan
In 2010, LAF—formerly known as the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago—revised its strategic plan and outlined four primary excellence goals:
- Superior client service
- Community engagement
- Committed and unified team
- Financial health and stability
Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program 2009 Strategic Plan
As a joint program of the Dallas Bar Association and Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program aims to increase and enhance pro bono legal services to the poor in Dallas. In order to continue this mission, the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program adopted a strategic plan with 10 goals:
- Recruitment and retention to increase new and active volunteers by 5 percent per year
- Regular measurement of activities and outcomes
- Effective, efficient, and high-quality legal services to clients
- Development of appropriate partnerships with agencies to effectively target and serve eligible clients
- Effective communication with providers, volunteers, board members, clients, and media
- Development and implementation of short- and long-term plans for effective program operations and service delivery
- Management of internal operations to maximize and efficiently allocate human resources
- Annual review and participation in fundraising activities
- Fiscal management that maintains and preserves a healthy revenue base
- Board involvement to enhance the leadership's knowledge and understanding of the organization and its active participation in oversight and supportive activities