A Community Health Center’s Board of Directors guides long-term and strategic planning for the center. The following resources are intended to help health center board members understand their responsibilities and guide their centers into strong and successful futures.
According to Chapter 19: Board Authority of the Health Center Program Compliance Manual, “The health center governing board must provide direction for long-range planning, including but not limited to identifying health center priorities and adopting a three-year plan for financial management and capital expenditures.” In order to prove compliance with this requirement, the board minutes or other relevant documents should confirm that the board has conducted “…long-range/strategic planning at least once every three years, which at a minimum addresses financial management and capital expenditure needs.”
Organization-wide strategic planning identifies factors influencing current and upcoming change, setting measurable and time-specific goals and objectives to best position the center for future success. This process should focus the organization’s resources on key priorities, while using internal and external input to build consensus about future efforts. The planning process is often vision-based, identifying a preferred future and determining the steps to reach that vision, and may include issues-based components, identifying current challenges and identifying tactics to address them.
Standard components of the strategic planning process include:
- Self-examination/assessments, e.g., review of mission, vision, and values; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis, review of operational capacity, financial status, etc.
- Planning often begins with a review of the health center’s mission and purpose, to ensure the decisions made during planning align with this intent. (Refer to the Mission and Vision Statements section below.)
- Review/scan of the environment in which the center is operating, both now and in the future (e.g., researching marketplace/competition issues, gathering stakeholder input, etc.).
- Determination of the potential consequences of various planning opportunities.
- Goal setting, including the development of objectives related to each goal.
- Development of an action plan, to include activities needed to meet the desired goals and steps to monitor progress and evaluation of efforts.
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Strategic Planning Resources
Strategy and Planning
Toolkit for Health Centers: Creating a Dynamic and Useful Strategic Plan
Community Tool Box
Developing a Strategic Plan
All About Strategic Planning
Framework for a Basic Strategic Plan Document for a Nonprofit
National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
The Board’s Role in Strategic Planning (Micro-Learning)
National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
Developing a Local Health Department Strategic Plan: A How-To Guide
National Council of Nonprofits
Strategic Planning for Nonprofits
What is Strategic Planning? Free Strategic Planning Templates
Stanford Social Innovation Review
Five Essentials of Strategic Planning, Article by Paul Redman (October 2013)
The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy, Article by Dana O’Donovan and Noah Rimland Flower (January 2013)
An effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration describing the reason an organization or program exists. Mission statements provide framework and purpose. They should be practical, tangible tools that can be used to make decisions about priorities, actions and responsibilities. The mission drives everything that the organization does and is the internal anchor for all that you do in your organization. A mission statement captures in a few succinct sentences the essence of an organization’s goals and philosophies underlying them. It signals what the organization is about to its clients, employees, volunteers and the community.
Mission statements contain three elements:
Cause, Actions, and Impact.
Mission statements do two things:
Tell the world why what you’re doing matters.
Lead an organization to do what matters.
A mission statement must answer four essential questions:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Whom do you do it for?
- What value are you bringing?
To help craft a mission statement, ponder these questions:
- What type of entity/program?
- E.g., a nonprofit, volunteer program, event, business, etc.
- Why do you exist (problem/needs)?
- E.g., Millions lack access to primary care.
- What is the broadest way to describe the work?
- E.g., Providing access to health care.
- For whom do you do this work?
- E.g., To people without access.
- Where do you work (geographic boundaries)?
- E.g., In underserved communities.
A vision statement is a broad view of how your organization is going to leave an impact on clients and the greater community. It should describe the clear and inspirational long-term change resulting from your work.
Questions to consider when creating a vision statement:
- What needs to be changed? What are the major issues or problems?
- Why should issues be addressed? What are their costs to the involved parties?
- What are the strengths and assets? Both of the organization/program and those being served.
- What is your dream end-state? In a perfect world, what would this look like?
- What would success look like? Specifically, for this particular organization/program.
Tips for Developing a Mission Statement
Mission vs. Vision
Community Tool Box
Proclaiming Your Dream: Developing Vision and Mission Statements
Defining Mission and Vision On-Demand Webinar (Free)
Basics of Developing Mission, Vision, and Value Statements
Nonprofit Mission Statements – Good and Bad Examples
Guide to Creating Mission and Vision Statements
Creating Mission and Vision Statements Worksheet