Our approach to strategic planning starts with helping an organization discover its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to identify where they are best positioned to increase impact. As an organization born from local government 20 years earlier, CASA in many ways functioned more as a quasi-government agency than a high-functioning nonprofit. That changed when this planning process began.
Through our strategic planning process, we collected feedback from local leaders who unanimously said they believed strongly in CASA’s approach and expertise. In fact, local leaders thought so highly of CASA’s ability to deliver quality housing to those with the greatest needs, they wanted to see CASA take an even greater lead in affordable housing. This feedback gave CASA Board and staff leaders the confidence to set bold goals in its first strategic plan and then literally build from there.
Equipped with a well-structured plan with clear goals, accountabilities, and timelines, CASA leaders set out to expand its housing portfolio with the support of private philanthropic investment for the first time. The creation of an annual fundraising program supplemented the overall operating budget, allowing more dollars to be directed to pre-development costs. After about 6 years, fundraising grew to support new CASA housing developments through a capital campaign and social impact investments. As their partner, we helped CASA build the strategy and the tools they needed to succeed.
The plan also gave CASA’s executive leaders an opportunity to see clearly the path ahead of them and to reflect on where their own retirements intersected with the plan. Knowing that the CEO, COO, and CFO all hoped to retire within 5 years of one another, they asked Armstrong McGuire to help create a succession plan. In partnership with the Board and the staff, we built an emergency plan and an intentional succession plan. Unfortunately, they needed both. When their long-time CEO Debra King died unexpectedly, the emergency plan was launched. Three years later, the full succession plan was executed when the COO turned CEO, Mary Jean Seyda retired. Together, we launched a national search for the next CASA leader Everett McElveen. During the transition and successful search, more than $20 million was raised and more than 200 units were added to the development pipeline.
"When CASA engaged Armstrong McGuire 10 years ago to embark on our first strategic plan, we never could have imagined the partnership that would emerge. Not only did they help us dream big in our first plan, they walked with us in helping us develop the systems, processes and people we needed to execute the plan. Over the last decade, every time we came to a crossroads Armstrong McGuire was there to help us take another step in increasing our community impact."
No matter what big idea you are dreaming about to transform your community, starting with strategic planning is the foundation you need to bring that idea to life.
Intentional planning launched CASA into annual and capital fundraising that propelled unprecedented impact on affordable housing in their community.
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