Organizational effectiveness/Learning center/Planning and prioritization
This is a page about a strategy included in the organizational effectiveness learning center.
Use this page as part of the organizational effectiveness tool.
Planning and prioritization
All organizations need to plan their work, but strategies in this area need to be adapted to each organization's context. For example, less formal organizations with very small budgets may plan their work for each project as needed, while organizations (whether formal or informal) with an annual budget, or organizations running a significant number of activities, may consider creating an annual plan with clear goals so that everyone involved with the work has a shared understanding of what they are working on.
Formal organizations with larger budgets should have a clear annual planning process in place that includes effective budgeting and consultation with volunteers and online contributors, and will also need a longer term strategic plan that outlines priorities over the next several years guided by the organization's board. These organizations will also need to benchmark progress according to their annual plans and strategic plans on a regular basis, and will need to be evaluating and measuring their progress systematically.
Annual planning overview
Your organization's annual plan will describe what you will accomplish in the coming year. It will include specific objectives that will then be tied to the work your volunteers (and staff, if applicable) will do in the coming year and the resources (e.g. money, in kind donations) you will need to raise to achieve those objectives. Here are a few other benefits of the annual planning process:
- Annual planning is an initial investment, but may reduce work for your organization over the course of the year, since with good planning you can apply for one annual grant rather than many distinct project grants.
- In the Wikimedia movement, annual plans are usually developed in close consultation with volunteers and communities of online contributors and are then formally approved by each organization's board. Getting community input into your organization's work can be an added benefit of the annual planning process.
- Annual planning is a good practice for tracking your organization's achievements over time. If you have a strategy document like a strategic plan, you should be able to describe how your annual plan and its objectives relate to your strategic plan and your long term goals and use your annual plan to help you assess progress against your strategy.
Here are a few examples of different types of annual plans developed by organizations the Wikimedia movement. For some organizations applying for annual grants, an annual grant application may be the only planning document they need. Other organizations will make a distinct annual plan document that will guide the development of their grant application or applications.
- This is a good example of an organization with a budget under $100K with an annual grant proposal that also serves as an annual plan. This organization is in the process of developing a strategic plan.
- This is a good example of an organization with a budget under $100K with an annual plan document that guides the development of a grant proposal. This organization's plan has an administrative focus not reflected in the grant proposal because they are currently restructuring. They use the annual plan as a way to get into more detail about their organizational goals.
- This is a good example of an organization with a budget over $100K with a quality annual plan that fits within a larger strategy document.
- Wikimedia Nederland's Annual Plan 2016 and Budget 2016 (English translation coming soon)
- Wikimedia Nederland's Annual Grant Application 2016
- Wikimedia Nederland's Strategy Document
Recommendations for planning
If your organization wants to get better at planning and prioritization, here are some concrete recommendations that may help your organization build capacity in this area. Some of these recommendations may be more or less applicable depending on your organization’s strengths and gaps in this area, and your organization's context. We realize many organizations are already using strategies like these.
Recommendations for informal organizations without budgets (or with small budgets)
- Identify volunteers in your organization who have expertise in planning or like to do this type of work. Not every volunteer is interested in project planning, annual planning, or strategic planning. If you don't have many of these volunteers around, you may consider recruiting some to join your organization's leadership.
- Articulate your goals for the current year in writing and share them with others in your organization, your volunteers, and your communities. A good practice is to make your goals for the current year public, and you might consider translating them to English if you have volunteers available to help with the translation.
- Make sure everyone involved with your organization knows your goals and priorities for the year, and that people are generally in agreement about these priorities.
- Make a list of the activities you will need to do to achieve your goals. Identify the roles different volunteers will play in doing these activities, or what other resources you might need (e.g. in kind donations, money) to do these activities.
- Have a plan in place for measuring the results of your activities, so you can know if you have achieved your goals. Set aside time at the end of each year and throughout the year to monitor and evaluate how your work went. You should plan for this monitoring and evaluation work as part of each activity you do.
Recommendations for organizations with an annual budget
Recommendations for annual planning
- Create an annual plan that describes your goals for the year. At a minimum your annual plan should include SMART objectives for each of your programs, along with a clear plan to measure your progress. Your plan should also include a description of the activities you will do to achieve your objectives, and a description of the resources you will need to do these activities and to run your organization.
- Frequently also included in an annual plan: (1) a description of how the activities you do will lead to your objectives; (2) a chart or timeline describing when your activities will happen; (3) a SWOT analysis or another type of analysis of risks and opportunities; (4) specific plans for raising the resources you need (e.g. grant money, new volunteers).
- Engage your communities in different stages of creating your annual plan, and use annual planning as a platform for engaging more volunteers and community members in your work.
- Make sure your annual plan fits clearly with your strategic plan, unless you have a good reason to change your strategy mid-stream.
- Identify if your organization has a process in place for creating and approving your annual plan. If it does not, consider writing down a clear process for this and make sure the process is approved by your board or decision-making body. This will ensure that decision makers approve of the plan.
- Monitor your progress against your annual plan at regular intervals and evaluate your work once your annual plan has ended. Create a public report on your progress each year, highlighting your learnings and accomplishments.
- Publish your annual plan in English and your local language. If your organization needs to make significant changes to your plan, make note of these changes or publish a new version of the plan.
Recommendations for strategic planning
- Consider the timing of your planning process. Strategic planning can often take several months or a year, and may require both monetary resources and large time commitments from the current board members and other key people in your organization.
- If your organization does not have a strategic plan, make a process for creating one. Document this process so that you can use it if you need to revisit your strategic plan or create a new one.
- Make sure that key stakeholders (volunteers, donors, online contributors) are involved in the creation of your plan.
- Consider including your top priorities over the next few years in your strategic plan, along with an assessment of your risks and opportunities (for example, using the SWOT model).
- When setting your priorities, consider your organization’s strengths and challenges (use of this tool may help you in future planning processes). Identify how your organization is uniquely positioned to achieve impact, and use this to influence your strategic priorities.
- When setting your priorities, consider how your organization’s priorities are compatible or aligned with the Wikimedia movement.
- Build a way for your organization to track progress against your long term goals at regular intervals. Make clear who is responsible in your organization for tracking your progress.
- If you do not have enough expertise within your organization to do effective strategic planning, consider asking for support or applying for a grant. Strategic planning is often a significant investment for a small organization, and it may be worthwhile to invest more up front in order to avoid the need for multiple attempts.
Wikimedia organizations with expertise in planning
If your organization has expertise in planning and prioritization, please list yourself here and briefly describe your expertise that others wanting to build capacity in this area can contact you:
- Wikimedia UK has a range of experience as regards working with volunteers and welcomes contributions from Wikimedians further afield to our discussions
- Please add your organization’s name here, with a description of your expertise.
Here are some learning patterns related to this strategy. Create your own learning pattern here, if you have learning to share in this area.
Ongoing challenges in the area of planning and prioritization
If your organization would like to share an ongoing challenge in this area, that is or is not addressed in these recommendations, please write it down here as a starting point. We can try to build resources in this area or help different Wikimedia Organizations connect to address the challenge together.
- Please add a description of your challenges in this area here.
Please add useful resources you know about, whether created by the Wikimedia movement or in another context.
- Description of SMART criteria for goal setting
- A concise one-pager explaining the difference between a strategic and an annual plan
- The strategic plan is dead. Long live strategy. from the Stanford Social Innovation Review
- Living into your strategic plan: a set of templates for taking action on your strategic plan
Create a capacity building plan for planning and prioritization
If your organization has decided to prioritize capacity building to improve your ability to planning and prioritization, please create a table like the one below. The steps in this table can be part of your organization’s master capacity building plan, as suggested in the User Guide.
If you would like to share your capacity building plan publicly on Meta, you can use this button to create your capacity building plan.