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7 Tips to Hiring "The Best Strategic Planning Facilitator Near Me."

Updated: Apr 23

Board members of a nonprofit going through a strategic planning session

Here's a list of 7 uncommon factors to look for!

Strategic planning is the backbone of any successful nonprofit organization, providing a roadmap for future growth and impact. However, navigating the strategic planning process can be challenging, requiring skilled guidance to ensure clarity, collaboration, and actionable outcomes.


When seeking to hire the best strategic planning facilitator for your nonprofit, there are several key factors to consider. Here are seven essential (but uncommon) considerations for CEOs and Board Chairs to keep in mind when searching “Near Me” for the best facilitator to lead their strategic planning sessions.


1. Understanding of Nonprofit Dynamics

Nonprofit organizations operate in a unique landscape, facing distinct challenges and opportunities compared to their for-profit counterparts. It's crucial to find a facilitator who understands the intricacies of the nonprofit sector, including funding constraints, stakeholder dynamics, and mission-driven objectives. Look for someone who has been deep in the nonprofit trenches for at least 10 years, and who has a deep appreciation for the complexities of nonprofit work and can tailor their approach accordingly.


2. Strategic Vision and Planning Expertise

Effective strategic planning requires more than just facilitating discussions—it requires strategic vision and planning expertise. Seek out facilitators who have a proven track record in strategic planning, with a strong understanding of organizational development, goal setting, and performance measurement. A facilitator who can offer strategic insights and expertise, and guide the organization through the planning process with clarity and purpose is invaluable.


3. Facilitation Skills

The success of a strategic planning session hinges on the facilitator's ability to guide productive discussions and foster collaboration among participants. Look for a facilitator who possesses strong facilitation skills, including active listening, consensus-building, and conflict resolution. A skilled facilitator can create a safe and inclusive space for all stakeholders to contribute their ideas and perspectives, leading to richer insights and more robust strategic plans.


4. Communication Skills

Clear and effective communication is essential for ensuring that strategic planning sessions stay on track and achieve their intended outcomes. Look for a facilitator who can communicate complex concepts in a clear and accessible manner, keeping participants engaged and informed throughout the process. Additionally, a facilitator who can adapt their communication style to suit the needs of different stakeholders will enhance the overall effectiveness of the strategic planning sessions.


5. Analytical Thinking

Strategic planning requires a strategic, big picture, long view approach, grounded in data-driven analysis and critical thinking. Seek out facilitators who possess strong analytical skills and can help the organization make informed decisions based on evidence and insights. A facilitator who can synthesize complex information, identify trends and patterns, and draw actionable conclusions will contribute to the development of a more robust and effective roadmap and strategic plan.


6. Problem-Solving Abilities

Inevitably, challenges and obstacles will arise during the strategic planning process. Look for a facilitator who excels at problem-solving and can help the organization navigate these challenges with creativity and resilience. Whether it's overcoming resource constraints, addressing competing priorities, or resolving conflicts among stakeholders, a facilitator who can approach problems with a solutions-oriented mindset will keep the strategic


7. Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Finally, seek out a facilitator who is committed to continuous improvement and learning. The strategic planning process is iterative, and the best facilitators are those who are willing to reflect on their practice, solicit feedback from participants, and incorporate lessons learned into future sessions. Look for someone who demonstrates a growth mindset and a willingness to evolve their approach based on emerging best practices and changing organizational needs.



Hiring the right strategic planning facilitator is essential for nonprofit organizations looking to chart a course for future success. By considering factors such as understanding of nonprofit dynamics, strategic vision, facilitation skills, communication skills, analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and commitment to continuous improvement, CEOs and Board Chairs can make informed decisions that lead to more effective strategic planning processes and stronger organizational outcomes.


So, take the time to research, interview, and select the facilitator who best aligns with your organization's needs and aspirations.


PS: Never forget . . . the best strategic planner just might NOT live near you. Be open to hiring a facilitator outside your region because they may be better and cost less!

Tom Iselin has built nine sector-leading nonprofits. He’s written six books, sits on three boards, and hosts a video blog and podcast. Each year, Tom speaks to more than 5,000 nonprofit leaders at conferences across the country. He is considered America's best and most popular board retreat and strategic planning facilitator and is a leading authority on high-performance nonprofits, and his impact on the industry has been featured on CNN, Nightline, and in Newsweek.

If you’re in the hunt for the best board retreat/board development facilitation, or the best strategic planning facilitation, it would be a privilege to learn more about your organization and the aspirations you hope to achieve as you work to propel your noble mission. Jot me an email to set up a meet-and-greet call.

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