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Field Guide to Strategic Planning for Associations

(Updated May 2014)

The strategic planning process is key in helping an organization develop a vision of where it will be in the future and determining the best ways to turn that vision into reality. This page includes resources on all aspects of strategic planning, from beginning the process to monitoring its implementation after the plan has been worked out. Also included are the strategic plan of the National Association of REALTORS® and other resources to assist REALTOR® association executives in developing strategic plans for their organizations. (F. Heller, Manager, Library & Archives)

Strategic Planning

Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.

NAR's Strategic Plan & Association Resources

NAR Strategic Plan: 2014-2016 (approved Nov. 2013)—A PDF version of NAR's full strategic plan can be found on this page.

Strategic Planning Resources Toolkit, (National Association of REALTORS®, 2013).

The Answer Book: Planning and Visioning—Tap into resources that explain the basics of strategic planning for association, including resources to assemble a business plan, the components of a needs assessment, information on audits, and more.

NAR Strategic Plan: 2012-2014 (approved Nov. 2011)—A PDF version of NAR's full strategic plan.

AE Strategic Issues—Videos, eBooks, smartphone apps and other resources centered around the NAR Association Executive Committee's 2012 report Simplify: Real Estate Trends in a Time of Uncertainty.

Best Practices for REALTOR® Association Executives—A Special Report, (Association Executives Committee Best Practices Work Group, Feb. 2004).

REALTOR® Association Models Online Planning Tool—Use this online questionnaire to help assess your association's current situation and plans for the future.

REALTOR® Association Resource Exchange (RARE), (National Association of REALTORS®, Information Central)—Use the purple menu at the top to browse sample strategic plans from various REALTOR® organizations around the country.

The Importance of Strategic Planning Within the REALTOR® Organization:

Strategic Planning: Getting Started

The right -- and wrong -- way to build a strategic plan, (Government Finance Review, Oct. 2012). Q

Strategic planning: Predicting or shaping the future?, (Organization Development Journal, Summer 2012). Q

Help Your Association Change Course (Associations Now, Feb 2012)

Strategic Planning Made Simple (FORUM, Dec. 2011)

Strategic planning that works, (Nonprofit World, July/Aug. 2011). Q

Strategic planning simplified, (T&D, Sept. 2010). Q

Five questions to build a strategy, (Harvard Business Review Blogs, May 26, 2010).

The do's and don'ts of strategic planning, (SuperVision, Dec. 2008). Q

How to do strategic planning in 15 hours or less, (Nonprofit World, Sept.-Oct. 2008). Q

Strategy management for associations: From issues to action, (Journal of Association Leadership, Fall 2006).

Success planning: Create your best strategic plan, (REALTOR® Association Executive, Fall 2004).

Filling in the Details

Closing the Gap Between Your Strategic and Work Plans, (Canadian Society of Association Executives, 2013).

Barriers to strategic planning and how to transcend them, (Nonprofit World, Sept./Oct. 2012). Q

Meta-SWOT: Introducing a new strategic planning tool, (Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2012). Q

What’s next for strategic planning?, (Associations Now, Apr. 2012).

Strategic positioning for the future: Opportunities & challenges, (FORUM, Dec. 2011).

Drucker's strategic thinking process: Three key techniques, (Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2010). Q

Four fatal flaws of strategic planning, (Harvard Business Review Blogs, Mar. 13, 2009).

Formulating effective strategies, (Association Magazine, Aug./Sept. 2008).

Needed: A better grasp of strategic planning: Answer these questions to create a strategic plan that'll make your vision a reality, (Nonprofit World, Sept./Oct. 2006). Q

Four steps to better goal setting, (REALTOR® Association Executive, Fall 2004).

What to Do When the Plan Is Done

Put your strategic plan in action, (Nonprofit World, Nov./Dec. 2012). Q

Three simple steps to activate your strategic plan, (Nonprofit World, Sept./Oct. 2008). Q

Keys to successful strategy implementation, (Association Magazine, Feb./Mar. 2008).

Monitoring return on strategy, (Association Management, Oct. 2004). Q

Translating strategy into effective implementation: Dispelling the myths and highlighting what works, (Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2003). Q

Strategic Planning Websites

Association for Strategic Planning - Professional organization for those involved in strategic planning processes. Includes book reviews, website links, etc.

PlanOnline.org, (Center for Strategic Planning)—Articles, tips, resources, and sample strategic plans for small businesses and organizations.

All About Strategic Planning, (Free Management Library)—Step-by-step guide to all aspects of creating and implementing a strategic plan.

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Implementing and Sustaining Your Strategic Plan (Kindle, Adobe eBook)

Strategy in Practice: A Practitioner’s Guide to Strategic Thinking (Adobe eBook, Overdrive Audio)

Breakthrough Thinking for Nonprofit Organizations: Creative Strategies for Extraordinary Results (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan: A Workbook for Public and Nonprofit Organizations (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

The Manager's Guide to Strategy (Adobe eReader)

Strategic Planning for Dummies (Kindle, Adobe eBook)

Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide and Workbook (Adobe eReader)

Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement (Kindle, Adobe eBook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Central. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Central at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

The Association and Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Research Guide, (American Management Association 2008).

It Starts with One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations, (Wharton School Publications, 2008).

Strategy Espresso: Triple Shots of Strategic Thinking to Energize Your Business, (Strategic Thinking Institute, 2008).

Mapping the Future of Your Association, (American Society of Association Executives, 2006).

The Subtle Art of Strategy: Organizational Planning in Uncertain Times, (Praeger, 2003).

Financial and strategic management for nonprofit organizations, (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2000). HF 294 B84

Strategic Planning for Association Executives, (Washington, DC: American Society of Association Executives, 1997). HF 294 Am3st

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Writing a Business Plan

Field Guide to Association Budgets & Reserves

Field Guide to Communication for Associations

InfoCentral Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.