Keeping Strategy Alive: The Three Simple Questions – Mike Stone, Impact Strategies

Mike Stone, of Impact Strquestion-everythingategies with a plethora of experience in strategy work, has identified three questions that help push your organization to continually reexamine strategic plans to avoid spending time and effort on strategies that do not last in the long run.

“Strategy is not part of the culture,” which explains why organizations are often lacking a viable strategy even when they have solid and effective plans. Mike stresses the importance of a strategy and its ability to create necessary habits. Once habits are in place, then a culture of strategy may exist.

The first step to keeping strategy alive in an organization is having a strategic directions committee. Mike suggests that if your organization does not have a committee like this, then simply create one. While planning is necessary for success because it allows us to have something “concrete” and “tangible”, it does not stay relevant throughout different stages because the details of a plan eventually become obsolete. Strategy on the other hand should “a) define where an organization needs to be positioned to have the greatest mission impact and be most profitable, and b) identify the challenges and opportunities that lie between the present and that desired position.”

This leads us to Mike’s 3 questions:

  1. What were we thinking then?
  2. What has happened since?
  3. What do we do now?

By asking these questions your organization can maintain a strategy that moves you toward your goals as well as encouraging adjustments for long lasting effectiveness.

To read Mike Stone’s full blog post about keeping strategy alive, click here.

Strategy – what is it?!

We’ve heard the word ‘strategy’ a lot lately at the PCNRC. Has the word been tossed around at your nonprofit? It’s definately a buzz word for the nonprofit sector.

strategyMike Stone, founder of Impact Strategies (a company “helping nonprofits make a difference”), is a guru when it comes to talking about strategy. On the Impact Strategies website, Mike has a blog with a treasure trove of strategy information. Over the next few months, we will be sharing some of his posts. The first one – you guessed it – is about the word ‘strategy.’

I agree with Mike – one needs to understand the word before moving into core conversations about another buzz term ‘strategic planning.’ He mentions that the basic of ‘strategy’ is organizational effectiveness. It encompasses the organization’s position, trade-offs, and fit.

To read Mike’s full post, click here.

You Caught Me: A Fundraiser’s Journey

Kelly UpdikeKelly Updike for PCNRC

If you remember the June 2016 blog, I suggested that we make that our Deep Thinking Month. Did you do it? Well, did you at least do the not-thinking-about-anything-at-all part? I tried to do that last one but fell asleep, so I’ve had to pencil that time into July.

I confess that, during my Deep Thinking time in sunny-stormy June, it came to me that I need a lot of help. No, silly, I’m fine, not that kind of help. I mean the kind where I let go a little bit and allow, perhaps even assist, others in doing their jobs.

My organization is ready to create a new strategic plan. I have lots of thoughts on this and was talking to a couple of consultants about it when I realized … hey, … what does the board really want to do? Um, did I ask? Shouldn’t the leaders lead? So, we regrouped and they are now foremost in the discussion on this while also giving equal time to the staff in determining that direction.

We also are planning our budget for the new fiscal year and it occurred to me that several top staffers need and deserve some new opportunities. They might tell you that I need to let them off their chain. Oops. So, as we look at budget, of which personnel expense is the biggest percentage of course, this is a great chance to be strategic about growth and maturation for the people who ARE the organization. Here’s a cool online tool on Successful Delegation:

Best of all, there are others who want to help us make our leaders better. The Foellinger Foundation offers three types of Capacity Building grants: Transform, Renew and Inspire. Information is at In addition, the Foellinger Foundation recently launched the Barbara Burt Leadership Fund for nonprofit board members. That information is at Questions about the fund can be directed to Christine Meek, Director of Programs at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne.

You need a plan (July can be Deep Thinking Month, too), so take the time to pause, think, grow.

Interesting online resources are at:


The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.

Sources for Community Statistics and Data

Finding Funders

Foundation Directory Online – In Grant Basics I, our monthly class, we teach you how to use this tool to find grantmakers that fits your nonprofit work. See our Training Schedule here.

Foundation Center Digital Grant Guides – $39.95 each – Yes, this information is from the database mentioned above.

Grant Space, the Foundation Center’s online portal for a variety of proposal writing resources including: Samples, Training schedules, Specific Fields of Interests topics and more.

Statistic and Data Resources

U.S. Census Bureau:

American FactFinder:

Take a FactFinder Virtual Tour, use  tutorials and learn more at the American FactFinder help page

Allen County Census Profile, compiled by the Community Research Institute

More State and Local Resources

When specific, tough questions come your way, these resources might prove helpful, though typically, you won’t need to dig this deeply. Remember, you can always ask us – perhaps someone else has already and the answer has been compiled recently. 

Federal Data & Statistics

Youth Data Resources

Indiana K-12 School Data > Create Custom School Profile

Kids Count in Indiana

Social Research:


Pew Research Center:

Brookings Institute:

Urban Institute:

Governor’s Conference


Registration Now Open!

2013 Governor’s Conference on Service and Nonprofit Capacity Building

Nonprofit professionals can now register for the two-day Governor’s Conference on Service and Nonprofit Capacity Building scheduled for October 3-4, 2013, at the Westin Indianapolis.

Be sure to take advantage of the early bird discount, which is available through September 13.

Continue reading

Reminder: RSVP by June 11 for Foellinger Foundation Ernest E. Williams Lecture

Williams lecture logo
You and your leadership team are invited to attend the 2013 Williams Lecture and workshop on June 25!


Please join your colleagues for the Foellinger Foundation’s 2013 Williams Lecture on June 25 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., with continental breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Zimmerman, Steve

You may bring multiple people from your organization, and the foundation urges you to bring board members.

Please RSVP to by June 11 and let her know who you are bringing.

The Foellinger Foundation Presents

Steven D. Zimmerman, CPA, MBA
Principal, Spectrum Nonprofit Services
Co-author, Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability

Ernest E. Williams Lecture 
8:00 to 9:30 a.m.
(Breakfast 7:30 a.m.)

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
4000 Parnell Avenue, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Please RSVP to by June 11 and let her know who you are bringing.

Click on the book to go to the catalog and place a hold.

Steve Zimmerman provides training and consulting in the areas of finance and strategy for community-based organizations, foundations and government agencies. He is co-author of the book Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability with Continue reading