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Case Study - Helping a Local Non-Profit Track Progress and Value

Client: Women's Association for Women's Alternatives
Swarthmore, PA

The Scenario: The Women's Association for Women's Alternatives (WAWA) offers a host of child welfare services for low income families designed to help ensure that the families stay together and ultimately move out of poverty. Some of WAWA's most popular services, offered through eight sites in Philadelphia and Delaware counties, include parenting skills classes and job training programs. As the agency has experienced significant growth in recent years, it has become ever more important and yet increasingly difficult to track and measure the impact of the good work that is does and report on the organization's progress and impact to key stakeholders.

The Challenge: Developing clear, concise and measurable goals

The incredible growth experienced by the agency over the last five years - including an annual budget jump from $1 million to $5 million a year -- prompted a need to take a look at the organization's mission and develop a strategic plan to guide its activities into the future. This plan needed to be a working document that could be easily understood by agency staff members as a well-defined set of goals to be working toward. It also needed to serve as a tool for evaluating agency activities and conveying the organization's impact to key external stakeholders, including members of the board of directors, in a clear, concise and yet comprehensive way.

The Approach: Involve key members of the management team in goal setting

In addition to developing an overall strategic plan to guide the entire organization, strategic plans were also developed for all major sub-areas of the organization. These plans were created in conjunction with the department heads for each sub area to ensure that key staff members feel "ownership" of the plan and are therefore more likely to feel connected to the organization's overall agenda and be more willing to be accountable for showing results.

The Result: A clear organization-wide understanding of where they are today, where they want to go in the future, and what they need to do to get there

"These strategic plans are basically guides or manuals for us to go through," says WAWA executive director Carol Goertzel. "When we present quarterly reports to the board, we can tell them how we are moving along in terms of the strategic plan. We can look at things in terms of what we have accomplished, and if need be, create an interim plan based on the overall three-year plan. We can now measure a lot of things that we weren't able to quantify before."

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