The opening segment of a philanthropic plan helps provide context that informs latter sections. If you are reviewing and revising your strategic plan on a three-year cycle, the context segment should serve as a general reference and typically only needs to be revised if the board decides to change the organizational mission or if historical changes have occurred that may affect the philanthropic landscape.
The “organizational context” section should include the organizational mission, vision, history, and values. These areas should be self-explanatory. A good resource for examples can be found in “Strategic fund development: Building profitable relationships that last” by Simone P. Joyaux (2001). See the appendices (A through D) for chapter 6. These begin on page 285. I highly recommend purchasing this book, but you can also find the relevant material through Google Books (http://bit.ly/JoyauxSFD). In her book Joyaux uses mission and vision consistently, but uses an assortment of alternate headings for the remaining context section. These section headings include both overview and assumptions.
The context segment should be concise and should not go so far as a fundraising resource audit or SWOT analysis. These areas will be covered in the next segment highlighting the philanthropic environment effecting the organization’s development efforts.
Next: Philanthropic Environment