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Strategic plans are helpful tools for positioning grant seekers to win grants from public and private sources. Among their typical components are: vision, mission, values, objectives, strategies, goals, and programs.


This post examines each component in turn. Later posts will examine the potential roles of strategic plans in winning competitive grants.



A vision sets the direction for an organization. It captures what an organization aspires to become in terms of where it sees itself three, four, or more years into the future. It forecasts what it will do, who will do it, how it will do it, for whom it will do it, when it will do it, how often it will do it, where it will do it, how well it will do it, and how it will let the world know what it has done and is doing.



A mission states what an organization does and why it does what it does. It captures the organization’s unique attributes, its core functions, its key constituents, and its primary beneficiaries. A mission also articulates what products or services an organization creates, how it creates them, and for whom it creates them. It is realistic, operational, and practical.



Values represent the core principles that guide an organization in doing what it does. As such, they govern the activities of all members of an organization. Values guide how an organization operates and how it conducts itself in creating and sustaining its relationships with its internal and external stakeholders.



Objectives are the quantifiable, time-bound, specific, measureable, assessable, and realistic indicators of an organization’s progress toward achieving its goals. They reflect and advance the organization’s mission. Objectives encompass the means of monitoring and evaluating outputs or outcomes or both. Measuring objectives is often frequent and formative as well as cyclical and summative.



Strategies state how an organization expects to accomplish its objectives, to advance its mission, and to realize its vision. They guide its selection and sequencing of activities. Organizations may adopt strategies after performing a SWOT analysis so that they are better able to build on strengths, resolve weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and avoid threats.



Goals are the measureable, assessable, and realistic indicators of what an organization expects to achieve by using it strategies to pursue its objectives. They are often more abstract than objectives, but should always be quantifiable, time-bound, and achievable. Any aspect of an organization may be the focus of a goal. Ordinarily, an organization’s goals are less numerous, more abstract, and longer-term than are its objectives.



Programs are an organization’s specific action plans and instruments dedicated to enacting its key strategies for accomplishing its objectives and ultimately achieving its goals. Programs identify who, with whom, what, with what, how, how well, where, when, and how often. They also indicate budget items and unit costs, sources and duration of funding, milestones and deadlines, and performance targets and performance measures. If they are framed as a logic model, each program will specify its goals, objectives, inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impacts.


As a consultant, determining whether a client should pursue a competitive grant is not always easy.


At times, all signs are that a client is ready to compete. The leadership’s go-ahead decision is unequivocal and has broad-based support. All of the organization’s assets necessary to prepare a proposal are committed to the task.


At other times, the signs are more uncertain. Some outspoken leaders or stakeholders may be anxious about subsequent commitments if a proposal is funded. Internal or external critics may question the wisdom of pursuing a particular grant. And the organization as a whole may be reluctant or unable to commit significant time and money to developing a proposal that may or may not yield funding.


The more list-items below that a client can mark as present the more likely it is ready to pursue a specific grant opportunity.


Strategic Readiness:

An applicant is probably ready to seek a grant if the specific grant opportunity fits:

  • Its organizational history and strengths
  • Its strategic plan
  • Its mission and vision statements
  • Its short-term and long-term organizational goals
  • Its internal understanding of a significant and resolvable problem or need
  • Its capacity to disburse, manage, and account for grant funds
  • Its capacity to track, measure, and report evaluation outcomes


Proposal Development Readiness:

An applicant is probably ready to apply for a grant if it can furnish its proposal developers:

  • Enough lead-time to complete a competitive proposal
  • Consistent internal support and accessibility from leadership
  • Access to meeting space and other necessary physical resources
  • Access to necessary internal subject area experts and decision-makers
  • Access to necessary statistical data and research literature


This post has focused on strategic and development readiness. An earlier post discussed organizational and leadership readiness.


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