By George Ritcheske, a member of the Rotary Club of Coppell, Texas, USA
The power of strategic planning was on display, and I could not have been more excited. It was a Saturday morning in February, before the pandemic forced us all into stay-at-home mode. I was facilitating the ninth-annual planning event for the Rotary Club of Park Cities, Texas, with 39 members in attendance for the half day session. They had signed up to craft strategic action plans for 2020-21, the third year of a three-year strategic plan. This was a quarter of their membership!
Now, admittedly, social distancing has created some new challenges for all of us in planning. But as we have all seen and heard, there are some pretty awesome tools available to stay connected virtually. And as Rotary has much to give the world in these unprecedented times, the value of strategic planning is as critical as ever. It is in that spirit that I look back and share what we were able to accomplish, hoping to encourage other clubs to enhance their impact by doing the same.
How did we start?
The club volunteered to pilot a process offered by our district. As facilitation is one of my professional skills, I stepped up to help. Just three days before the first meeting, a colleague of mine offered to help co-facilitate (and she later joined the club)!
Building a team
The first team was selected in 2012 based on the following principles, which have been applied to each annual team since:
- Past leaders still active in the club (Wisdom)
- Current leaders on the incoming Board (Responsibility)
- Newer members showing club service leadership potential (Possibilities)
Additionally, event planning included the president-elect (PE) and the next two in the presidential succession, and all three attended the events. This provides for continuity and success throughout the three-year plan.
Vision, Mission & Slogan
In the first year, the team crafted:
- A vision statement: “Be a vibrant visionary model of service above self”
- A mission statement: “Building a legacy of good works and fellowship, we strive to reach those in need in partnership with others, inspire tomorrow’s leaders with high ethical standards, and foster lives of service above self.”
- A club slogan: “Serving to Make a Difference”
We established three strategic priorities:
- Engage current members and attract new members through meaningful service projects and opportunities
- Enhance club awareness through community partnerships
- Address hunger at home and abroad
First Years & Collaborative Partners
As the club sought to align its projects and events with the strategic priorities, the leaders embraced the focus to leverage their resources to have the greatest impact on their community. One key outcome was defining collaborative partners. The club increased visibility in the community by building deeper relationships which enhanced their impact.
By the fourth year, these efforts paid off with the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB). The club raised $253,000 to buy and equip NTFB’s first food pantry truck for South Dallas, an area known as a food desert. The club also provided volunteers to develop and staff the delivery processes. The project was covered by local media, with tons of publicity. The CEO of the food bank has since joined the club.
In year five, there were many changes made to the club’s committee structure and enhancements to other club projects to better align with the strategic priorities. Also, core values were developed, which added to the Vision, Mission, Slogan, and Priorities to complete the Strategic Plan framework:
- Commitment to great service and initiatives
- Integrity—Acting with honesty and honor
- Relationships—Meet and make valuable friendship with other Rotarians
- Supporting the good of the greater community
- Personal & professional growth
The club leadership purposefully aligned club initiatives and efforts to the strategic priorities of meaningful service opportunities, club awareness, and addressing hunger.
In recent years, more impactful projects and programs have emerged as leadership embraced these annual strategic planning sessions. The club has seen great success with increased opportunities, more collaborative partnerships, and bigger impact due to this program.
We are in historic times. The pandemic has shattered our economy and presented huge challenges. But as People of Action, we Rotarians have the means and the methods to step in and make a difference. Strategic planning, such as that outlined above, focuses your efforts and ensures maximum impact. And it can be done virtually, with just a bit of ingenuity and creativity.
Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions about how this might work for your club.