Culturally respectful planning process for an international faith-based organization

The Situation

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. In the midst of a period of change and reorganization, AFSC recognized both a need and an opportunity for strategic planning to help define organization direction and identify needed resources. It sought The Improve Group’s expertise and thoughtful, comprehensive partnership to help it create this important plan.

The Solution

In close partnership with the AFSC Board of Directors and Planning Committee, our team embarked on a holistic strategic planning process that:

  • Gathered and analyzed data from a broad group of stakeholders from around the organization and world, using methods responsive to each group.
  • Enabled Quaker-specific review and contemplation of the plan’s direction, a “seasoning” process, to productively guide the plan.
  • Honored Quaker practices in the facilitation of planning sessions, while bringing new ideas, congruent with organization values, when needed to accomplish certain steps of the plan
  • Revised and refined mission, vision and values statements
  • Explored the balance between organizational priorities and distinct differences in local context
  • Established a system of benchmarks and review so that stakeholders can regularly check in, share progress and continue to support AFSC.

The Results

The Improve Group succeeded in helping AFSC create a meaningful strategic plan to advance its social justice, peace and humanitarian service. The 5-year plan assists the AFSC leadership in its efforts to:

  • Determine which programs to continue or initiate.
  • Monitor or adjust implementation based on a system of clear benchmarks.
  • Align large and complex organizational structures around a common purpose and vision.

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