Operational IMPACT Partners LLC
Nonprofit Management Expertise: Sustainable Impact



"A strategy delineates a territory in which a company seeks to be unique"
Michael Porter


Sustainable Strategic Transformations

Strategic Planning:  What It Is — and Isn’t

More than a few strategic planning efforts have run aground because they were based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what a strategic plan is. Sometimes strategic planning is confused with other planning modalities, each valid in its own right but geared toward a different end result. To put it simply, not every plan is a strategic plan.  

  • A strategic plan is a tool that provides guidance in fulfilling a mission with maximum efficiency and impact. If it is to be effective and useful, it should articulate specific goals and describe the action steps and resources needed to accomplish them. As a rule, most strategic plans should be reviewed and revamped every three to five years.
  • An operating plan is a coordinated set of tasks for carrying out the goals delineated in a strategic plan. It thus goes into greater detail than the strategic plan from which it is derived, spelling out time frames and the roles of individual staff and board members, for example. It also has a shorter horizon than a strategic plan— usually one fiscal year.
  • A business plan is typically focused on the actions and investment necessary to generate income from a specific program or service. A business plan includes information about an organization’s products, competitive environment and revenue assumptions.
  • A case statement is geared toward marketing and fundraising rather than planning.  It describes the organization’s goals, capabilities and strengths and the benefits it provides. Its purpose is to secure contributions and grants from individuals, foundations, corporate giving programs and other philanthropic entities. 
OIP Strategy Mapping Solutions

Strategy mapping is a concept that originated in the business domain that has valuable cross-over appeal for nonprofits.  Similar to the well established Logic Model concept used in the nonprofit sector, a stategy map is a visual presentation of your strategy, the resources and interdependencies required to communicate and implement your strategy.

What are strategy maps?

Strategy maps are diagrams that allow you to quickly visualize the performance of your balanced scorecards.  If you don’t know balanced scorecard terminology yet, it’s a good idea to start there first. The concept originated in the private sector and shares many similarities with the well established Logic Model process widely utilized in the nonprofit sector-a visual presentation of your strategy, the resources and interdependencies required to communicate and implement your strategy.

The main idea is that each strategic objective is represented by a shape, usually oval or square.  These shapes are then grouped by perspective and lines are drawn to show the cause and effect chain.

OIP offers strategy mapping workshops to our clients-these can be board of director specific, executive team or executive director specific, staff specific or constituent specific workshops-or a combination of these. This drives communications ensuring all constituents are on the same page with stategy, goals and objectives-and most importantly, the resources needed to get there.  Let OIP help you with your strategy mapping process.

Click here to request strategy mapping information.

Operational Planning:

What is Operational Planning?

Simply stated, operational planning is the conversion of strategic goals into managed execution.

strategy provides the vision, direction and goals for the organization, but operational planning translates that strategy into the everyday execution tactics of the business that will ultimately produce the outcomes defined by the strategy. Simply stated, operational planning is the conversion of strategic goals into managed execution.

The Critical Role Operation Planning Plays in Strategy Execution:

Corporate strategy can be thought of as a message packet that must be passed through the organization, understood by all and acted upon in orchestration.  If the message is garbled, ambiguous or not communicated well, the intent will be lost in translation and operational execution will become misaligned with the corporate strategic goals.

Superior operational planning requires proactive and innovative thinking to enact strategy within the operational layer of the business.  Operational planning must produce the plan outcomes while managing constraints on time, money and resources.


The assessment services offered by Operational IMPACT Partners will help nearly every non-profit meet their objectives. They include:

  • Pre-campaign assessments and success evaluations
  • Campaign development, implementation and management
  • Organizational leadership assessment and development (coaching)
  • Campaign impact analysis (in-process and upon completion
  • Development and fundraising department assessment and redesign
  • Foundation and corporate outreach (value proposition and messaging)
  • Planned giving programs  

 Assessment is the first step in providing a framework for clarifying, prioritizing and planning. OIP uses a series of template based methodologies designed to capture desired information and present it to stakeholders in a clear, concise and if requested, an actionable plan.

Sample Assessment Services: 

  • Stakeholder interviews, analysis and feedback implementation
  • SWOT analysis
  • Staff and leadership skills evaluation
  • Processes, procedures and organizational alignment
  • Organizational culture analysis and alignment 

    organizational diagnostics 

    • Help leaders isolate the strategic challenges and opportunities facing their organization
    • Provide a data baseline used to track progress on an ongoing basis

     Organizational Design:     Facilitates the alignment with organizational strategy, including:

    • Clear allocation of roles and decision rights
    • Appropriate organizational structure
    • Productive cross-functional interfaces  

     operational performance tuning 

      Operations Performance Tuning:

      • Help leaders identify strategic cost-drivers, sub-optimum overhead costs and functions and processes
      • Provide a data baseline used to track progress on an ongoing basis

      Metric and Dashboard Design:   

      • Facilitates the alignment with organizational strategy and provides a methodology for visualizing and communicating goals, objectives and gap-analysis
      • Key Performance Indicators (KPI's), ratios, benchmarks
      • Decision frameworks and methodology to avail of "opportunity windows"
      • Productive cross-functional interfaces

       Adaptive Cost Strategies: Improving the ROI on overhead costs

      • Develop a clearer picture of costs and benchmark against peer organizations
      • Reduce the right costs and invest in the right areas to enhance mission impact
      • Scenario planning enables quick implementation of "what if" plans so that you stay ahead of the curve, not behind it.

      Scenario planning is perhaps the most useful exercise to ensure the organization can execute effectively during times of uncertainty.  Unfortunately, most organizations adopt a "set it and forget it" mentality to annual budgets--once it is created, the programs, services, staffing and cost structure get "locked in" and these are communicated to your constituents-board, funders, staff, volunteers, etc.  What happens when any one, or all of these items change?

      Grants, government funding and even individual donations can fluctuate greatly from year-to-year. Programmatic income and revenue are subject to these same fluctuations--particularly in times of economic uncertainty.  Are you prepared to make "real-time" adjustments when costs increase, funding or program revenue decreases? How will you adjust to minimize the impact of these changes on your programs, constituents and stakeholders?

      OPI specializes in scenario planning-modeling a wide variety of options-"what-ifs" to revenue, costs and all the key components required to deliver services and budgets.  We will develop these models with you-and create a series of templates you can use to adjust in real-time.

      Sample Scenario Planning Template
      Click here to request a sample template with three "what-if" options covering a variety of changes to income, revenue, funding and costs. Utilizing this tool, OIP helps you stay ahead of the curve, better prepared to whether the storm and provide the greats level of mission impact to your constituents and stakeholders.

      OIP Nonprofit Operational Analysis Services:

      Financial evaluation is not an exact science and involves a lot of judgment but can be a very useful tool for evaluating the financial position of your organization within your industry and key trends that can indicate future success or trouble.

      Some of the most useful metrics we look at for our nonprofit clients are the following:

      Program efficiency – this key ratio measures the percentage of each expense dollar that is allocated to programs.  The perfect outcome would be ratio of “1” which indicates that every dollar paid by the organization is used for programs.  Any stakeholder in the organization will perceive this as a reflection of the how well the organization is fulfilling its mission with their dollars.

      Revenue Composition – this metric shows the composition of the organization’s revenue stream.  This ratio answers the question of “how many cents in program revenue is there for each dollar of revenue generated?”  It is also an indicator of how dependent is the organization on outside funding.

      Operating Reliance – this metric shows the organization’s ability to pay for total expenses exclusively from program revenues.  It is an interesting measure size program revenues can come from more predictable and consistent funding sources.  The ideal ratio for this metric is “1”.

      Fundraising Efficiency – This ratio shows how much contribution revenue a nonprofit can generate from each fundraising dollar expended.   From this metric we are expecting a high number which would indicate that the organization generates a multiple of each fundraising dollar expensed.

      Of course, you can also evaluate an organization using the general business ratios used in the for-profit world, such as:  

      • Current Ratio
      • Quick Ratio
      • Inventory days
      • Receivable days
      • Payable days
      • Gross program margin
      • Operating margin

      A thorough financial analysis should be performed at least once per year and use comparative data from at least two years.  The results should be interpreted and discussed with a financial specialist and corrective action should be identified.

      Call us today so we can perform a complete financial analysis on your organization. 

      Nonprofit Management Expertise: Sustainable Impact


      (650) 579-1210