Creating a Grants Office from Scratch (Part 3): The Strategic Plan

Welcome to part 3 of the series guiding leadership and grant directors in the quest to establish a strong grants office. (See parts 1 and 2 of the series in case you missed them.) Now that we have support for the office and know the reason for its being, let’s talk strategy.

To make sure that you and all the parties involved have a clear understanding of the purpose and direction for the office, develop a strategic plan for the office. Where are you going to be in 2-3 years, what is the vision and mission of the office (tie it to the organizational level), and what are the critical objectives the office must fill?

This does not have to be a complex document; the entire plan can be about 5 pages. This phase is key to establishing the direction of the office so that all other phases, tasks, and decisions can be executed with direction and reason. Once you have a draft together, review the plan with the office champion and then share the document with all of the office stakeholders for feedback. If the comments coming back are aligned, adapt the plan accordingly. If the feedback is contradictory, regroup the stakeholders for a face-to-face discussion about the point in question. This is the time to work out the concept for the office and make sure everyone is on the same page. It is excessively late when you are starting the hiring process for other positions and then you find out that there was not a common understanding of the direction and purpose of the office.

In my experience, this is the part where I was forced to skimp on time and effort, and that was a challenge that ultimately proved to cause misunderstanding among the contributing parties. If there were anything I would do better next time, this would be it.

Here are the suggested components of the plan:

  1. Introduction that includes an overview of the history of the office and why the office is being created.
  2. Vision and Mission statements for the office – tied, of course, to the organizational statements.
  3. Statement of the future status of the office (2-3 years out for the first plan).
  4. Two to three goals for the office in years 1-3 to be able to meet the future-state.
  5. One to two objectives tied to each goal. Think of these as milestones toward the goal. Make sure they are measurable so you know how you are doing. Identify a timeline for the objectives – are they year 1, 2, or 3, or do they have other timing?
  6. Activities to meet the objectives. Create your to-do list.
  7. A schedule to report against the plan, revise the plan, and to create the next strategic plan.

In the next couple weeks, I’ll cover the subjects of evaluating the culture, establish grant goals, and the launch.

Originally published on the eCivis Blog July 15, 2014

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