Focus Areas


Focus Areas are the organizing framework for the second section of your strategic plan, "Our Actions". They serve as a set of organizational areas that you and your team will focus on in your strategic plan. 

A common set of Focus Areas are:

  • Programs
  • Fund Development
  • People (includes staffing, board, and volunteers)
  • Marketing
  • Operations (includes financial management, human resources, policies, procedures, etc.) 


A well-structured Focus Area will have a long-term vision and set of supporting goals. Here is an example of a food bank network:

Focus Area: Programs

Long-term Vision: Within three years we will have established seven new food banks and institutionalized a Programs Committee that regularly meets and tracks progress on our programs. 

Goals:  A. BEST PRACTICES: Create a training program of best practices used by food banks across the state.     B. NEW FOOD BANKS: Bring two new food banks into our network in the next six months. 

Although not essential, many organizations also select a Focus Area Champion and a set of team members that are responsible for completing the goals in the Focus Area. 

Different Focus Areas

The five Focus Areas presented above are a great starting point. That said, consider eliminating or changing one or more of these Focus Areas if:

  • It is clear that your organization's current strategic needs are different than these five.
  • Your plan is for a shorter time frame (one year, for example) and five areas are just too much to tackle.
  • Your organization is just starting out or has limited capacity and you need to limit your focus.
  • Your organization is more mature and needs to focus on a more specific set of areas.

Below are other Focus Areas that we’ve seen organizations use:

  • Staffing
  • Board Development
  • Membership Development
  • Strategic Planning
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Facilities
  • Financial Management
  • Volunteer Engagement
  • Technology

Focus Areas as Committees

An alternative way of thinking about Focus Areas is to think of them as committees. This has been especially useful for organizations with large boards such as membership organizations, chambers of commerce, and associations. If that’s your case then your Focus Areas may be something like this:

  • Membership
  • Governance
  • Events
  • Advocacy
  • Marketing

Whatever the case is for you, don’t worry about selecting the absolute perfect Focus Areas. As you work through your strategic plan you’ll get more clarity about which Focus Areas make the most sense.