Ep 167: For the Love of Strategic Planning (with Robert Raben)

by Joan Garry

In this episode, my guest compares strategy to love — tune in as Robert Raben and I dig deep into the topic of nonprofit strategic planning and how the right approach can help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.


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How do you define strategic planning as a nonprofit leader? Is it a function or a value? And how often does tactical planning get mistaken for strategic?

There really is no clear consensus on the definition of nonprofit strategic planning for our sector, but in my conversation in this episode with guest Robert Raben, we get one step closer to clarity.

For a nonprofit organization, your values are what lay the groundwork for great strategic planning — and their importance and influence can not be overstated. After all, the values that are shared across your organization have a major impact on your strategic planning model and what you choose to prioritize for the future.

And according to my guest, Robert Raben (leader of the unique public policy firm, The Raben Group), after years of experience working with nonprofits, he came to realize that even strategy itself can be a value (as if strategic planning wasn’t confusing enough).

Tune in as we dig deeper into this rabbit hole. We also discuss the impact that your board has on your strategic vision, the importance of recognizing DEI as a value of an organization, and how Robert has continued to pivot in his own strategy over the years.

Click play to learn:

  • Why do so many nonprofit leaders dread strategic planning? (4:17)
  • What can the nonprofit sector do to improve strategic planning issues? (9:08)
  • Are forces an issue as well? (11:51)
  • What role do nonprofit boards play in strategy? How can nonprofit leaders better navigate this collaboration? (23:23)
  • When did you add DEI arm to The Raben Group and was it the outcome of some strong strategy at The Raben Group? (32:11)


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About Robert Raben

Robert Raben is a native of Miami, and a graduate of the Wharton School and the New York University Law School. Nearly 30 years of professional experience as an attorney, senior Hill staffer, and Assistant Attorney General have given Robert a nuanced understanding of both the legal subtleties and the political realities of the issues he handles. Since 2002 he has run The Raben Group, a unique public policy firm that works to drive public policy in a humane and sensible direction; to bring diversity and equity to the boardrooms and think tanks and corporations of America; to create a fair judiciary and to influence legislation that will broaden civil rights, reform our criminal justice system, and improve education for all our children.

Contact Robert Raben