In light of the 2001 stock market fluctuations and decreasing return on its Trust Fund investments, Fundación Natura found itself in a quandary. It was a relatively new national grant making organization serving a nascent Panamanian environmental and development non-profit community. In its first years, Natura had the financial capacity to fund most of the good projects that had come in the door. But the non-profit community was growing at the same time its financial capacity to grant funding was decreasing. The question it now faced was how to decide on its funding priorities and strategy. I worked with Fundación Natura's staff and board members to help the organization develop its first strategic and financial plan.

The Process

Developing the Strategy: We began by evaluating the "big picture"-- what did the board, staff and constituents want the organization to accomplish over a five year period, what types of changes and impacts did they want to achieve within the country, and how could they grow upon the organization's strengths and opportunities. These were translated into a set of five year goals. To determine what type of funding was already available for its priorities and in some instances how to complement the work of other funders without duplicating efforts, we conducted a survey of the local funding landscape in the country to determine what Panama's local, national and international funders were supporting. We then flushed out a set of objectives under each of its goals, detailing Natura's programmatic and geographic focus that would move the organization towards accomplishing concrete, measureable impacts to further Panama's environmental efforts. The goals, objectives and activities were prioritized based on agreed upon criteria.

Developing the Financial Plan: The final stage involved working with staff members to develop a set of financial projections detailing the expected cost of implementing the strategic plan, with corresponding funding scenarios based on both expected funding from its trust/endowment and other potential funding sources.

The end result was a plan that:

  • served as a roadmap to guide the organization's work over the next five years;
  • detailed a prioritized set of goals, objectives and activities;
  • included a set of metrics to aid in measuring the organization's progress and success; and,
  • established prioritized fundraising targets for each of the next five years.

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