By Barbara Gray – Lead Consultant
The client is an arts organization in South Florida that has served its community for more than 40 years. Operating as a self-contained 501(c)3, its major revenue sources are city, county, and state arts and culture funding grants and the public school system. It is also supported by private foundations and individual donors and builds revenue and goodwill in the community through its fundraising events, a membership program, and income from classes and camps offered primarily for children. Its campus is in the heart of downtown, which is currently undergoing massive residential development.
The purpose of this engagement was to create a 2-year Strategic Plan to guide the decisions and activities aligned with new building construction and programmatic planning. The organization reviewed and revised its Vision, Mission, and Core Values Statements 9 years prior to the beginning of our discussions; these Statements have guided its planning in the ensuing years. The COVID-19 pandemic tabled the implementation of major building and programming plans. When we met with the Executive Director in the fall of 2021, the organization was poised to move forward with a large capital improvement and expansion project. In addition, there was a need to plan for programming to attract and be responsive to both the new residents projected to move within walking distance of their campus and the changing demographics of residents in the broader community.
The CEO created a Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) composed of members of the Board of Directors and key staff. Members of the Executive Service Corps worked closely with the Executive Director to form a work plan for the committee that would respect other responsibilities not related to this project while at the same time assuring an appropriate level of participation and input into the creation of Strategic Priorities and Goals. A combination of surveys, virtual meetings, individual work, and in-person meetings were conducted. The Executive Director identified a number of potential external and internal stakeholders to participate in one-on-one confidential interviews to add to a data set about the organization and the environment in which it operates.
Executive Service Corps prepared an Environmental Scan, conducted one-on-one interviews with community and internal stakeholders, obtained further input through surveys involving all Board and Staff, and facilitated a SWOT ANALYSIS identification and prioritization process using an online Google Form. ESC-FL consultants also facilitated several Planning Sessions to discuss Key Strategic Priorities and Goals, and prepared a Strategic Plan document to guide the organization’s program planning and implementation efforts over a 2.5-year period.
With a large and diverse Board of Directors and community-based funders and supporters, the organization is fortunate to have a broad base of support as well as many different perspectives about what its services and programming should be. The discussions at the committee level about Strategic Priorities brought clarity to the value of focusing on a few key priorities rather than a broad spectrum of activities and services. The identification of Priorities and the ability to make decisions about programming that lead to achieving the goals within those priorities gives the Board of Directors a level of confidence that the day-to-day operations are addressing the Mission while at the same time making appropriate use of the resources and funding that keep the doors open.