Strategic planning can be expensive and daunting for boards and executive leadership teams. It can be a great idea to bring in a consultant to lead and guide the process, but for schools struggling with tight budgets, the cost can be prohibitive. So why not handle the strategic planning process internally? The problem might be that you don't know where to start, or what model to follow. 

The Strategic Planning in Nonprofits (SPiN) program, available from the Washington Nonprofit Institute, is one place to start. The program outlines the strategic planning process and includes activities, video clips, and a full complement of downloadable tools and worksheets to take the mystery out of strategic planning. The SPiN process covers six planning elements: preparing, listening, envisioning, planning, executing, and evaluating. It is easy to use and to understand and clearly explains why each element is important to the overall process.

I have used the tools both with students and with organizations, and I have found them to be intuitive and customizable. If you are considering a strategic planning proess, but your resources for hiring a consultant are limited, the Strategic Planning in Nonprofits (SPiN) program might be a great place to get started. An introductory video can be found at

While you are on the Washington Nonprofit Institute website, you may find other tools that are helpful for addressing your challenges. The site also contains board tools, finance tools, legal tools, and more.