In Part II of SEI’s series on sustainability planning, we covered “planning to plan.” You assessed your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. How did you fare? Take a moment to celebrate your strengths. Where you have identified weaknesses, reframe. At SEI, we think of these areas, along with opportunities or threats, as Capacity Building Priorities. These Capacity Building Priorities are places for you to examine, understand, seek counsel, focus learning, and grow. You will return to your assessment throughout the sustainability planning process.


In fact, if you used a more formal framework for assessment perhaps now is the time to refer to the “Vision” and “Results or Outcomes” section. How did you do? If you completed a SWOT or are just reading on, think for a moment about your organization’s vision. How would the world look if you achieved your mission? A vision statement is your guiding light. It is clear, inspiring, and lasting. If you want to get clearer on the difference between a vision and mission statement watch this

Some of our Capacity Building Academy graduates have created beautiful, inspiring vision statements to describe the future they strive to create:

  • A community working together to transform the next generation.
  • Families will be safe, healthy and thriving members of our community.
  • Every individual has the means to economic self-sufficiency, personal dignity, and attainment of their potential.

Wouldn’t you want to work to create a world where these statements are true? That is the effect we are looking for. (Other sample vision statements from well-known companies can be found here).

After you have evaluated and perhaps revised your vision statement, you will need to figure out how to get there. This is where having a results orientation comes into play.

Desired Results

If, as Peter Drucker suggested, what gets measured, gets done, then you need to understand what you will measure. Here are some key questions:

  • What are you trying to achieve for the folks you serve? In other words, what kind of change do you hope will occur because of the services you are providing?
  • What kind of data are you collecting to measure your success?

Once you establish these desired results, you will need to pair them with the strategies you are using to achieve them. McKinsey and Company define strategy as:  “The coherent set of actions and programs aimed at fulfilling the organization’s overarching goals.”

It works like this:

By writing out your strategies, you are developing your theory of change. This is what we mean when we talk about a roadmap describing how you will achieve your vision.

Here are some further resources to explore in relationship to theory of change, desired results, outcomes, etc.  After you work through them and document your desired results and supporting strategies, join us for Part IV: Developing Key Champions and Building Broad-Based Community Support.