Planning in civil society organizations

Life is not a linear line.Any type of organization, belonging to the public, private or third sector, always depends on three key instruments: planning and decision-making, funding and legislation. The condition for the survival of entities in any sector is to function according to the basic rules that must be mastered.

Any type of organization, belonging to the public, private or third sector, always depends on three key instruments: planning and decision-making, funding and legislation.

The condition for the survival of entities in any sector is to function according to the basic rules that must be mastered.

Legislation (Law on Associations) mainly covers decision-making instruments and civil society organizations have limited space to fit into the legal framework.

Funding is also legally regulated and civil society organizations have limitations in this main instrument.

The first part of the main instrument, which is planning, provides the most space for the independent decision of the members of each individual civil society entity.

Planning is, therefore, a matter of decision of the entire membership of the association (or some other type of organization), and the success of the legal (but also natural) person largely depends on the type of planning.

The theory knows three types of planning:

1. traditional planning

2. ad hoc planning

3. strategic planning.

Combinations of these planning methods are, of course, also possible.

We have inherited traditional planning from the former system, so it is mainly oriented towards public institutions. Associations and other civil society organizations are less likely to plan in the traditional way, although there are some. The basis of traditional planning is static, one could say in today’s vocabulary “copy / paste” making plans from previous years. It is common that traditional planning has no novelties, no proactive thinking, no significant strides. Thus, the organization that opted for traditional planning is doomed to “failure” in the long run. Members of a traditionally oriented organization will quickly lose interest in participating in the work. The traditional way of planning is characterized by the so-called “walking the beaten, ivory paths” and any attempt at change stops at its beginnings. Dr. Dragan Klaić, a theorist of cultural policies, believes that the traditional way of planning is to blame for the ineffectiveness of professional art associations in the cultural systems of transition countries.

The ad hoc way of planning has its good sides in the ability to react quickly to unforeseen situations, but as a rule it is always self-interested and can cause sudden changes that are generally not good for the organization because they are not the basis for reflection. Every organization (as well as the person, but also the society) should be “ad hoc”, ready for sudden changes, but if the work of the organization is based exclusively on ad hoc decisions, it leads to chaos. The quality of projects that an ad hoc organization does cannot be at a high level and can lead to failure.

A superior way of planning, especially in the turbulent times we live in, is certainly strategic planning. This way of planning is not as firmly defined as is traditional, and it is not “from today to tomorrow” as is usual with ad hoc planning. Strategic planning has its own rules and usages, and usually covers a period of 3 to 5 years. An organization that opts for strategic planning has the greatest chance of survival, motivates its membership, and in case of circumstances that could jeopardize the survival of the organization, it is possible to implement plan changes with the least possible stress. Since strategic planning is the best way of planning in civil society organizations, we will discuss it more in the next issues of the Association’s magazine.Finally, it should be emphasized that the combination of traditional and ad hoc planning is the worst possible combination, and in Croatia we often encounter this type of planning, which explains the poor development of society as a whole.