Non-Profit Leadership Summit | Data Driven Strategic Planning

Non-Profit Leadership Summit Focuses on the Power of Data

Published on by Lynn Meiser in Not-for-Profit

Non-Profit Leadership Summit Focuses on the Power of Data

The annual non-profit Leadership Summit is always a highly anticipated event, and that was especially true in 2021. The summit, presented by Barnes Dennig, The Leadership Council for Non-Profits, and the Association of Fundraising professionals, hosted renowned speaker and author Sheri Chaney Jones as its keynote speaker.

The founder and CEO of Measurement Resourses Company and SureImpact, Inc. Sheri led two full workshops on the power and impact of data for non-profit organizations: “Data-Driven Strategic Planning for Fundraising Success” and “How to Turn Data into Dollars: Demonstrate Your Social Impact.”

In today’s post, we’re focusing on highlights from the first session. You can watch the full session and download the slides on-demand from the Barnes Dennig website.

Funding is the lifeblood for all organizations in the business of social change. But when your resources are limited, so is your impact. Fortunately, there is a new and better way to create an environment where attracting the resources you need to achieve your mission occurs with more ease and less stress. By implementing certain behaviors and practices, coupled with a data-driven approach to strategic planning, you and your team will spend less time chasing money, and more time moving your mission forward.

Data-Driven Strategic Planning is Key to Fundraising Success

Ask yourself how your non-profit is changing lives – and think about how you tell your story. Showing real-world data and telling real-world success stories help potential donors connect more strongly with your organization.

Data metrics help with fundraising – key questions to ask include:

  • how many prospects do we need to cultivate?
  • how many meetings do we need to have?
  • how many grants should we apply for?
  • what data do we need to attract grants?

Steps to Successful Strategic Planning

What are the steps to successful strategic planning for non-profits? Sheri laid the foundation for organizational success in strategic planning with these key steps.

Shift Your Mindset

You may not consider yourself a strategic planner, but it’s important to shift your mindset. To achieve your goals, you need to be a savvy strategic planner. Start with data, then create action sets, strategic focus areas, and set strategic goals.

It’s also critical to have a clear vision of your organization’s current state. Take a long look at the facts and assess the reality of the situation.

Get Diverse Perspectives

Diverse opinions help – remember great ideas can come from anywhere. Listen to your staff, your stakeholders, your funders, and your donors. Their perspective can be invaluable in planning your organization’s future.

By the Numbers

Sheri recommends a three-year strategic planning cycle, with short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Quarterly meetings to review status and next steps will help you stay on track.


Conduct a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – and be careful not to focus exclusively on the negatives.

A SOAR analysis provides some different perspective – in addition to assessing strengths and opportunities, you’re also evaluating aspirations – where you want the organization to go – and results: what impact are you having on those you serve and the surrounding community.?

How are you fulfilling your mission? And what data do you have that tells that story?

Contact Us

Want to learn more about how data can make a positive impact on your fundraising success, or have an audit or Form 990 tax question for our non-profit team? Contact us – we serve more than 300 non-profits across a wide range of service types – and we’re here to help.


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