This publication provides a step-by-step process as well as resources and tools for leading groups through strategic planning. Strategic planning is a process that helps groups work towards a desired future by focusing energy and resources on shared goals. It helps groups to assess and adjust strategic direction in response to changing environments.

A strategic plan is a formally written document that guides a group's decision making process toward achieving desired goals that align with their mission and vision statements. It also helps in allocating resources (volunteer, staff, monetary, infrastructure, etc.) and prioritizing actions.

Strategic Planning may be for you if:

  • Your group is operating smoothly but wonders if it will continue to do so in five years
  • Your group lacks community appeal, or is struggling to maintain viability
  • Your group has an opportunity that it is considering
  • Your group was originally formed to respond to a major issue that has now been addressed
  • Your group lacks a clear purpose
  • Your group wants direction from the community

Strategic Planning may not be appropriate for you if:

  • There is a lack of leadership, training or skills
  • There is a lack of commitment to the process
  • There is the "old guard belief" that nothing can help and nothing ever changes
  • There is little likelihood of the strategic plan being used

Strategic planning and the subsequent implementation of the plan will assist a group to:

  • Establish a shared vision, mission and goals
  • Establish clear, realistic goals and objectives that are consistent with the vision and mission of the group
  • Clarify or redefine your group's role and your target group(s)
  • Helps board, staff and volunteers have a shared understanding and common language
  • Gain commitment and bring your group together to work on common goals
  • Effectively communicate your focus and needs with various stakeholders
  • Reduce the need for having to make repetitive decisions
  • Deal positively with the change
  • Address critical issues your group is facing
  • Find innovative ways to achieve goals
  • Measure success and progress by creating clear outcomes for measurement
  • Focus on goals to use resources efficiently and effectively

The strategic planning process can be divided into the following five stages:


  • Identify the Need
  • Understand the Roles
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Budget
  • Information
  • Timing

Develop a Vision and Mission

  • Develop Vision Statement
  • Develop Mission Statement

Collect and Analyze Information

  • Gather Information
  • Conduct Environmental Scan
  • Identify Critical Issues

Develop Goals and Action Plans

  • Prioritize and Select Goals
  • Set Objectives
  • Identify Performance Measures
  • Create Action Plans

Implement and Monitor

  • Write and Communicate Strategic Plan
  • Monitor and Track Process

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs offers a Strategic Planning Resource Manual that is designed to support groups that have identified strategic planning as a priority. The manual has been written for the group and facilitator who are responsible for leading a group through the strategic planning process, and provides a step-by-step process as well as resources and tools to assist with each stage of the process.

If you would like to receive a free copy of the Strategic Planning Resource Manual, complete a request form.