Strategic planning is a process to help an organization define its direction. A strategic plan can serve as a management tool—a road map to lead an organization from where it is now to a future end result.
Problems can be complex and opinions about the problem and its causes may vary, so it is essential that you try to understand the problem more in depth. Strategic planning is a process of understanding the problem, developing a direction for the future, and detailing how to get there—how to reach a vision, how to solve a problem, and how to implement a program or project. Strategic planning can take place at many different levels; it can focus on an entire organization or a specific service or project. This training focuses on the latter—a strategic planning effort to carry out a specific project.
Some may question the need to expend time or effort to undergo a strategic planning process when you simply want to apply for grant funds. There are three reasons strategic planning is important to the grant-writing process.
First, strategic planning focuses your thinking and efforts on thoroughly understanding the problem and enables you to back up that understanding with critical or relevant data. Strategic planning helps you clearly articulate how the proposed activities will address the problem and maps out a strategy to accomplish the goals and objectives, and it lays out how progress will be demonstrated—again, using data to illustrate success.
Second, strategic planning provides thought and planning for how this project—the one being applied for—fits into and complements other activities and projects that your agency or community is working on. It allows a more intense and focused effort to be brought to the problems being addressed.
And third, it helps your agency ensure adequate accountability and transparency about your project because it clearly states what your project hopes to accomplish and what it does accomplish.
In addition to these reasons, the information contained in a strategic plan gives you a jump start on your application. Most of the data collection and analysis, the goals and objectives, and the performance measures can be taken from your strategic plan and used in the program narrative of your grant application. If the information in your strategic plan was developed well in advance, make sure it is still appropriate and relevant at the time you are drafting your grant application.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance has established The Grant Writing and Management Academy for criminal justice practitioners and state, local, and tribal jurisdictions (including any community- and/or faith-based partners) that apply for or receive federal grants. This training provides an overview of project planning, management, administration, and assessment of federally funded programs. The training encourages participants to think strategically about how they develop and fund projects. Participants are introduced to a variety of methods and tools used to identify community problems, administer and manage projects, and assess performance.