Strategic planning

Created: July 24, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Updated: November 9, 2023 | By Community Resource Kit

The process

New groups

Strategic planning involves defining what you want your group to achieve and making decisions on the best way to get it done. Your strategic plan should answer these three questions:

  1. What do we do?
  2. Who do we do it for?
  3. How do we excel?

Once you decide to set up a new group, get together to write your strategic plan. Do it in two or three brainstorming sessions so you have time to pause and reflect on your progress. Your strategic planning process should cover the following:

  • Define your vision, purpose or mission, and values/principles (your kaupapa and tikanga).
  • A plan of how to get there - set the more specific goals (or outcomes) and strategies, keeping the list to a maximum of three goals or intermediate outcomes. This will lead into the operational plan, which can be done at the same time.
  • An environmental scan - look at what's currently going on in the wider community and any future plans that may affect your work.
  • PESTLE, SWOT and stakeholder analysis - what might help or hinder achieving your mission.
Tip: If possible, get an experienced, impartial person to facilitate the planning sessions. This will help identify issues that people within the group might miss. Also make sure you record the sessions on paper, a whiteboard or computer for future reference.

Established groups

An established group should review plans on a regular basis. Start with your group's mission statement and objectives. These should be set out in your constitution and possibly in previous strategic plans. If your mission statement and objectives have  changed since you wrote them, there should be a formal process for updating outlined within your constitution.

Mission vs vision

A mission statement answers the question: Why do we exist?

Your group's vision focuses on the long-term goal and a vision statement answers the question: What do we want to achieve?

For example, the mission of Volunteering New Zealand is: To promote, support and advocate for volunteering. 

The vision of Volunteering New Zealand is: A New Zealand that promotes, values and supports effective volunteering for the benefit of individuals and communities.

Strategic planning tools

Situational analysis

A situational analysis identifies what's happening in the wider community, and what trends or developments might influence the direction and goals of your organisation. This is also referred to as an environmental scan.

Look at a wide range of issues, such as transport and housing developments, population trends (migration, ethnicity changes, changing demographics etc.) and employment trends (both local and national).

Some sources of information for carrying out your environmental scan are:

Public information

  • Local authorities are required to develop Long-Term Plans (LTPs) and to facilitate Community Outcome Processes (COPs), where communities identify the social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes they want for their own well-being. Long-Term Plans include regional profiles, which will have information about your community.
  • Local authorities have a range of other relevant information regarding future developments, trends etc. Much of this can be obtained from their individual websites. 
  • A wide range of statistical information about people and communities, population, work and income is available from Statistics New Zealand.

Informal information

  • Brainstorm as a group; you will have a lot of local knowledge.  

Your situational analysis will reveal lots of information, so analyse it as it you go. Try to filter out the information that isn't relevant to your group's goals and keep what is relevant. That will help you develop strategies that fit your community.

PESTLE analysis

A PESTLE analysis is a specific example of a situational analysis in which you consider the:

  • political
  • economic
  • social
  • technological
  • legal and
  • environmental

factors that might affect your organisation, but which are outside your control.

To do a PESTLE analysis:

  • Under each of the PESTLE headings, make a list of what factors could impact on your community group.
  • Consider how these factors might impact on your group.
  • This information will then feed into the SWOT analysis.

SWOT analysis

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a tool for identifying the factors that will affect your organisation, both internal (which you can influence) and external (which you can't).

To do a SWOT analysis:

  1. Start by specifying your group's or project's objective. 
  2. Draw up a SWOT Analysis Template (see below) on a large sheet of paper or whiteboard.
  3. Complete the template by writing down the internal and external factors that will have an impact on achieving your objective.

The PEST analysis will provide you with information about the external factors the Opportunities and Threats.

The Strengths will be the skills, attributes or resources of your group that will help you attain your goal, and the Weaknesses are the factors that might hinder you (these are things you can work to improve).

Internal factors

(things about 
your group)



External factors

(things outside of 
your group)



Stakeholder analysis

A stakeholder is someone who has a direct interest in the services your organisation provides. A stakeholder can be a client, a volunteer in your organisation, or another organisation that uses your services.

A stakeholder analysis lists the people or organisations that could have an effect on your group and identifies the nature of their impact. You can use this information when developing your strategic plan, because it allows you to determine the different needs and expectations of your stakeholders. It's also vital to your Communications Plan. 

To do a stakeholder analysis:

 Stakeholder Analysis Map


Role/ relationship




Community Groups:





























  1. Draw up a Stakeholder Analysis Map on large sheet of paper or whiteboard
  2. In the first column, Stakeholders, list all the people and organisations that have an interest in what you're doing. Include: 
    • the people you are working with, and providing services to
    • other community groups in the area - whether you work together, and/or refer people to more appropriate services
    • the people in your organisation - staff, volunteers, committee/board members
    • funders (actual and potential).
  3. In the second column, Role/relationship, write down what each stakeholder's particular role or relationship is with you.
  4. In the third column, Influences, write down what is the influence of each stakeholder (see also the force field analysis below).
  5. In the fourth column, Inter-relationships, write down any inter-relationships that may be useful, such as with people involved in different groups, or personal relationships with stakeholders
  6. In the last column, Strategies/management, write down the implications of this stakeholder relationship for your group and what you will need to do to make the relationship work (if possible). Doing a force field analysis will help you complete this last column.

 (Adapted from Toolkit for Managers, Public Health)

Force field analysis

In a force field analysis you put your key stakeholders on the force field according to whether they support, oppose or are neutral about what you're doing.

Force Field Analysis

Develop strategies to build your support and manage your opposition by:

  • getting your supporters more actively involved in helping you
  • bringing the neutral groups or people on board e.g. by talking to them directly
  • targeting your opponents such as by building positive relationships or strategically opposing them.

Record these strategies in the last column of the stakeholder analysis map.

Read more about the definition, key usage and steps in conducting a force field analysis in this guide

Drawing up your strategy

When you have completed your strategic planning, you should be able to draw up a final strategic plan for your group. It should consist of goals and a roadmap for achieving those goals. Try to keep it short by choosing 3-5 key priority areas that you will follow up with realistic actions. When you have finished, give everyone in your group a copy or put it up somewhere where everyone can see it. You've a much better chance of reaching your goals if all the members of your group are clear about what the goals are and what you need to do to achieve them.

To see some examples of community organisations' strategic plans, visit:

Next page: Operational planning 

Previous page: Introduction to planning

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