Question of the Month: What is strategic planning, and how does it affect Giant Steps?
Answer: Over the past few years, Giant Steps reached a point of stability in its programming, funding, and staffing. As a result, staff and board began to consider how the organization could have a greater impact, and, at the start of the year, engaged a consultant to lead a formal strategic planning process for the organization. The process included interviews, a survey (thank you to all 118 of you who responded), a planning retreat, and many, many meetings and conversations. Here are the highlights of what we learned, and where we landed.
There were clear and consistent themes that emerged from the survey and interviews:
- Program quality, professionalism, instructors, and space/center were seen as what truly set the organization apart from others. While there are several organizations that compete with Giant Steps, none offer the same level of instruction and support to participants, or the depth of program offerings.
- Key opportunities that were identified included: 1) Serving more clients – given the quality of service and current waiting list, there is a strong desire to serve more clients and/or expand services to current client segments, and 2) Being a strong voice for equine therapy as a sector.
- Naturally, to accomplish these goals, issues of space / infrastructure, staffing, developing visibility beyond the equestrian community and Giant Steps’ current geographic scope, and fundraising will need to be addressed.
One of the main questions that was raised was whether Giant Steps should consider expanding to a second location, and the clear choice of the board was to remain in one location for the time-being, exploring ways to increase our programming within our existing location. That is not to say that Giant Steps will never explore a second location, but it will not in the foreseeable future. Instead, the board and staff decided to focus on the following organizational strategy and initiatives:
A second key outcome of the strategic planning process was an updating of our mission statement in acknowledgment of the range of services we provide, with our new mission statement being:
Giant Steps’ mission is to enrich the lives of children and adults by empowering their physical, emotional, and cognitive development through equine-assisted therapies and activities.
We send many thanks to those of you who participated in the process, and look forward to sharing our progress with you. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask Beth ([email protected]).