Men's Shelter of Charlotte

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Strategic Planning for Success

Nonprofits often struggle with strategic planning, ours is no exception.  How do you keep it simple but impactful?  How do you balance the need for a comprehensive document with the desire for a one page snapshot?  How do you make your strategic plan a living document and not another well-intention plan on a bookshelf or hidden in a file folder? 

Men’s Shelter of Charlotte just adopted a revised strategic plan for the next three fiscal years.  To make our plan relevant we agreed on several key factors.  First, the plan had to have laser focus on Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s core – our mission, vision, and equation.  Second, the plan had to include all areas of our agency (each department, program, activity, etc. – this includes HR, facilities, and, yes, the executive director and the board).  Third, the plan had to show a vision for the agency into the future, in our case the next 5, 10, and 20 years, while also detailing strategies and impact for the upcoming three year period.  Finally, our plan had to be used.  We decided all departmental plans, board work, and leadership decision-making would use the plan as a daily guide.  The plan has been shared with our entire staff, our board, and has even been made public (we’ve posted it on our website (  And we have to live it everyday, which is why I’m writing about our plan this morning.

As we approach July 1 and the start of a new fiscal year, here are a few highlights of our strategic plan being implemented in 2014-2015:

  • Enhance impact on our equation: Income + Housing + Support = An End to Homelessness through service delivery improvements including increasing meaningful relationships with employers, landlords, and partner agencies.
  • Improve our new staff orientation and make sure all our employees understand the meaning of our mission and vision.
  • Align our departmental goals and activities, especially our fund development plan, with our strategic plan.
  • Review, discuss, and update our strategic plan regularly at our board of directors meetings.

If you can include everyone at your nonprofit – and by everyone I mean leadership, board members, key stakeholders, and all employees – in your strategic plan it can be a powerful guide to managing your agency today and preparing your agency for success into the future.  We started with our board chair and me agreeing that a strategic plan, crafted correctly, was a priority for our agency and then we brought everyone on board.  As for the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, we plan to regularly update the impact of our strategic plan implementation and share our successes with all, so check out our website for periodic updates.


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Carson Dean

In September 2008 I became the Executive Director of the Men's Shelter of Charlotte. I've spent almost 15 years working to end homelessness in North Carolina. After working with homeless and runaway youth in Raleigh, I served as the Director of the South Wilmington Street Center (men's shelter) in Wake County and then worked on Orange County's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. I am a former board chair for the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness and former chair of the Homeless Services Network in Charlotte. In 2014 I served as the partner agency representative on the United Way Central Carolinas board of directors.

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