The tools of strategic planning include techniques commonly used to help you and your organization set goals, choose the means to achieve them and make sure your work progresses.

SWOT Analysis

A tool that’s been around awhile, and used in a myriad of circumstances, is the SWOT analysis. If you’ve spent any time planning, I bet you have some SWOT experience.

It’s simple. Identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. That’s your SWOT analysis. The key to a great SWOT analysis is to include as many perspectives as possible: staff, board, clients and constituents, contractors, community members, donors and funders.

Mind Maps

Mind Maps are another great tool for Strategic Planning. These are visual tools showing relationships. Your mind map presents words, ideas or images linked to a theme or idea. Mind maps are a form of brainstorming that starts with a probing question or problem, usually presented written and at the center of paper or whiteboard. As you brainstorm, your ideas and concepts are added and branches from the main theme.


After your SWOT analysis and Mind Mapping, it’s time to set your goals. They are a must in strategic planning. Use the SMART goals system: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound. Your goals should grow out of the vision and mission of your organization.

Bring It Together

1. Using goals as your starting point, develop strategies to reach your goal(s).

2. Take these strategies and set objectives by answering these questions…

3. Measure your success.

Connect everything with the resources (people, skills and funding) necessary to make it happen.