Guest Writer: Ghinwa Mikdashi*
One of the biggest pitfalls civil society actors fall into is drafting a strategy that targets others before it targets them internally. Developed well, a strategy serves as your guiding star; your chaperon to ensure that you fulfill your aim towards yourself first, and towards your stakeholders second. Here are some tips that can help guide you in developing a proper strategy:
1- Start the strategic planning process internally:
Ask yourself: where are you now, and where do you want to go? As they say in Alice in Wonderland, “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”, so make sure to know where you are heading.
2- Map your stakeholders and take their perspectives into account:
A participatory approach is key to sound planning that accounts for all sides. Concurrently, avoid being driven by agendas that aren’t your own; especially donor-driven.
3- Adopt a waterfall technique:
Your vision should inform the development of your mission and cascade into objectives, results, and activities.
4- Make sure your strategy is feasible and cut to your size:
Ensure your strategy is result-oriented and supported by a work plan. Otherwise, it will be just another ‘nice’ document to shelf. Too broad serves no purpose and too narrow restricts your operations. Finding the right mix might be challenging on the short term but indefinitely rewarding on the long term.
5- Plan for milestones and targets:
Conduct at least one mid-term review to ensure that you are on track and take corrective measures before it becomes too late, too costly, and simply unfeasible.
*Starting her career at an international NGO and combining her practical knowledge with a doctorate degree focused on the NGO sector, Ghinwa Mikdashi has been providing consultancy and training services to local NGOs, international NGOs, UN agencies, and the EU for over 11 years. She is a firm believer in partnering up with civil society for the betterment of our community.