People work and strategize at a wooden table with drinks and notes


The start of a new year brings an opportunity for organizational leaders to reflect and plan for a productive and effective year ahead.

At turner4D, we like to guide our clients through a series of questions that sift through the clutter of the day-to-day to take a deep dive and a hard look into the prospects their future can bring.

Here we provide you a resource you can take into a planning session which will immediately surface a strategic plan.  These questions are best used in a group brainstorming session with the main decision makers in the organization.  We’ve found it’s often preferable to have the session off-site of your office and lead by a facilitator. Of course, we would be delighted to facilitate yours.

Setting Strategic Goals

The key to creating sets of strategic goals is to ask the right questions.  Questions like:

What do you want to achieve? 

Reach high. Go big. Be clear.

To get you started, imagine you decide:

  • -You want to grow your organization’s foundation funding by $2m in 2016.
  • -You want to get a particular piece of legislation passed.

Who needs to do what to meet that goal?

Be specific. Who on your team needs to accomplish what to contribute to the overall goal?  Are you missing any key people you’ll need along the way in terms of personnel, contacts or allies? What kinds of leadership will be needed?  Identify the actors and key players.

  • -You think your organization can find ten foundations in particular niches that can give $500k each. List those specific targeted foundations by organization name and individual contact person’s name.
  • -To get legislation passed, the bill first needs to be introduced by a Representative and Senator. There will likely be allies, neutrals, and opponents to your bill – write out your strategy for passing the legislation along with key Representatives/Senators that could help or hinder you.

Who do these actors and/or key players listen to?

It’s crucial to pinpoint individuals and organizations that are influencers.

  • -For your next step decide, per your fundraising goal, which other foundations, non-profit leaders and investors are most influential.
  • -Do the same per legislation you want passed; think about advocacy groups, funders, corporate lobbies, etc.

What messages move these actors and their communities?

In this case, it’s key to think of their self-interest.  How they define themselves personally and organizationally?

  • -This is where audience research and public opinion research comes in. What information would best impact your organizational messaging?
  • -Consider your two very different target audiences: foundations and legislators.

Where do they get their information?

Consider all of the ways and places your audience may hear/view/read a message.

Think what press, social media, influencers, in house media, friends and family, churches, community centers, regional, and neighborhood outlets they turn to for information.

  • -Philanthropist influencers may be good to consider listing to bolster your outreach to foundations.
  • -Include specialized groups of constituents that may have a favorable preference towards your legislation.

What stories do you have to tell that will move your audience to propagate these outlets? What do you need to make available to make these stories credible and usable?

Your stories should be centered on what makes your impact on the world unique.

What are your resources to do this project?

Take a hard look at your current organization – its structure, its people, its allies and connections.  How much time do you have?  Do you have a solid Human Resources department?  Communications team? Where can you build capacity to help your organization function more effectively?

What is your timeline?

Identifying a timeline gives you the route to all of those benchmarks you’ll be reaching in your strategic plan.  Specific next steps get everyone in your organization on the same path and going in the same direction.

How will you measure success and course correctly?

Stay SMART about how you think about these goals.  Are they Specific? Measurable? Attainable? Realistic? Time bound?

  • -Being SMART about your organizational goals will keep them concrete, concise and will help with buy-in from other team or staff members.

Strategic planning isn’t stressful when you know the right questions to ask and steps to take.  It can be an informative, interactive and imaginative practice.

We would be honored to help guide you in this process.  We offer workshops that help you surface answers to the questions we’ve outlined above, and can create a strategy for you that addresses your needs and builds your capacity.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us at

We look forward to working with you.


Suzanne Turner is Founder and President of turner4D.