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Crafting a Vision for the New Year

Crafting a Vision

By Rhen Hoehn, Director of Marketing

As the holidays approach, we often spend time thinking about our resolutions for the coming new year.  We use new year's resolutions to highlight our personal goals and our vision for our individual future.  That said, organizations can also use the start of the new year to redefine and clarify their organizational vision.  


I invite you to ponder some important questions.  What will your organization look like 10 years from now? What is the impact it will be making? What will have changed about it?


Can you answer these questions?


If other members of your staff were asked these questions, would they answer the same as you?


To take it another step further, if your organization’s top donors were asked, would they also answer the same way?


The long-term vision for a nonprofit can take many forms, all of them equally valid.


Take, for example, a small K-8 Catholic school. Ask the staff, parents, and local community what the 10 year vision is for the school, and you might get a variety of answers including:

  • Add on a high school
  • Update or replace the current facilities
  • Double the K-8 enrollment


None of these potential visions for the school is bad, and any of them could be true. 


The trouble is that working toward each of these ends at the same time likely means that none of them will come to fruition. 


There needs to be focused intensity on one vision, by all the stakeholders of the school, to move it forward.


The administration must set the vision, development staff must communicate it, and donors must support it.


Determining a long-term vision for a nonprofit takes some time, and your vision defining process should include input from a wide variety of stakeholders from within and around the organization. 


Short Term Vision

A long-term vision, such as a 10 year vision, provides you with a direction in which to point your efforts. The goals included in a 10 year vision are typically large, and can feel overwhelming from where you are standing today.


For this reason, keeping that long-term vision in mind, you need to walk that vision back to a three year vision, and then a one year vision. What do you need to accomplish in each of those time periods to keep on track for accomplishing that longer goal?


You can likely see how taking the long view, and then focusing in on the nearer term, will help your nonprofit to begin setting goals for the coming year.


Case for Support

Once a long-term and short-term vision have been discussed and have begun to crystalize, capture them in writing.


Within the nonprofit community, the written record of an organization’s history, mission, and vision is called a “case for support” or a “case statement.” 


You can learn more about case statements HERE. (



Setting a vision and goals for the year is one thing, and actually putting them in motion is another.


As you begin to set goals for yourself and your organization for the next year, always ask yourself two questions:


What do I need to do more of to make these goals and this vision a reality? 

  • Is it more time set aside for fundraising? 
  • A greater emphasis on hiring and training? 
  • Time set aside to invest in learning new skills and tools?


What do I need to do less of to make these goals and vision a reality? 

  • Have we undergone “mission creep,” where we added in activities that are good, but that do not serve the central mission of our organization? 
  • Are there basic tasks such as data entry that I can hand off to an intern or volunteer?
  • Can I hire a part time worker to take those tasks off of my plate?


Over the course of months and years, the success in carrying out your vision will reflect the activities in your day-to-day calendar. Make sure that you are spending your time on the right things.


Your Support System

You don’t have to go about the task of determining your organization’s vision and case statement alone.


Petrus Development’s Basic Online Advancement Training (BOAT) program is a 10 week, cohort-based class that walks students through the blueprint for building a development office one step at a time.


BOAT is a perfect fit for:

  • Organizations who are just starting a development program and want to get it off the ground
  • New development officers in established fundraising programs. BOAT is great for onboarding staff who don’t have a background in fundraising.


To learn more about the BOAT program and see upcoming cohort start dates, visit



Are you ready to take a new look at your organization's vision?

If so, click below for a PDF download at the end of this article will walk you through a process you can use to begin formulating your organization’s long-term vision.

 Access the free PDF here >>



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