a view from the Board Side “Long-range planning”

By  Dick  Hagerty, Advisory board Member

How current is your long-range specific plan?

If your corps is like most, you either have not updated the plan for a very long time, or perhaps you never have created a plan to begin with. The Salvation Army expects all advisory boards and corps to not only have a plan but to update that plan every five years.

We recently went through this process, and I hate to admit how far out of date the plan had become. It was a lengthy, thorough and enlightening process, but our finished product was well worth the effort.

Simply engaging in the process of initiating a plan will open your eyes to so many opportunities for upgrading your services. You will be well rewarded for the effort—not to mention being in compliance with Army expectations.

Step one is to locate the most recent plan, review this and use it as a starting point for the update. If you do have an existing plan, I would encourage you to still go through the process I will outline here for those without a plan. You will be happy you did, because this process will reveal much about how well you are accomplishing your mission.

Starting from scratch, I recommend that you take an in-depth look at each separate program that your corps implements. Encourage as many board members as are willing to sit in on these careful and thoughtful reviews of exactly what goes on within each program. Take time to dialogue on ways to make the program better. We spent at least two separate, lengthy sessions on each of our four major programs, and came up with a wealth of ideas to improve and implement these concepts.

You should also interview other agencies and principals in the community who are providing services and programs to the needy. While you will never eliminate all of the overlapping programs offered in the community, you will uncover ways that gaps can be filled and obvious overlaps eliminated.

We will publish our plan in a three-ring binder to facilitate recording future upgrades and changes. This document must be a “living document” and not one that is created, then set on the shelf to fulfill the Army regulations.

At the conclusion of our plan we included a “special needs” section for those areas that we need to address but have not yet implemented. In addition, we will, from time to time, add other items to this wish list and strive to keep the plan and the process alive.

Interestingly, even though we have nearly 20 different committees here in Modesto, Calif., the long-range plan process revealed the need for two more. We have already implemented one of those, and it has yielded significant cost and efficiency improvements.

Most importantly, we have created a sort of umbrella committee—we call it the social services committee—to which each of the various programs will report and which will have responsibility of keeping the executive committee and full advisory board up to speed on our overall community social operations.

We are nearly ready to go to press with this final document. We have pledged to keep better tabs on the overall committee so that in the future our plan will not fall so far out of date.

Anyone wishing a copy can contact me, and I will be happy to email you our complete document. I would also enjoy hearing feedback from those who have had success in creating their plans, as well as those who might need a bit of encouragement or simply some direction on how to start the process.

You can contact me at

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