Letter from the President & CEO: Strategic Plan Process Update

Formal headshot of Beth McCaw of Washington Women's FoundationDear WA Women’s Foundation Members,

Since my last report in October, the Board of Directors has made further progress on our strategic plan, and some of you have been involved in giving us feedback. Our consultant Tara Smith has met with our Cabinet, Impact Assessment Committee (IAC), and Member Engagement Committee, sharing our work product, to-date, and asking for feedback. We also have plans to meet with the Pooled Fund Grant Committee in early March.

For some members, it may seem like this process has been going on for a long time.  It is true that we revised our mission statement more than a year ago but that was part of our rebranding. This current process actually started last August, when our Strategic Planning Steering Committee met for the first time and our consultants began their information gathering process.  Since then, we hosted member focus groups and held a Board retreat in September.  We also discussed strategic planning at the two other regular Board meetings that have been held since September (in December and January).

Crux Consulting has been leading us through a values-based strategy process based upon the work of Dr. Steve Patty (Moving Icebergs: Leading People to Lasting Change).   His premise is that in order to create lasting change in an organization, we need to not only shape the actions of individuals within an organization but also, dive below the surface to engage their shared values, aims, assumptions and beliefs.  Otherwise, change simply chips away at the top of the iceberg but doesn’t actually move it.

And yes, icebergs move slowly – as does this process as compared to others.  We also are moving slowly because we are a membership organization, and we know that you, our members, are highly invested in the Foundation.  We are trying to test our working ideas in front of many different subgroups of members as possible, and you are busy women!

The member engagement we have conducted to-date has shaped the work of our Board and Strategic Planning Steering Committee in defining what we value collectively, what we believe collectively and what we are trying to do in the world as Washington Women’s Foundation. We have placed these ideas into the boxes of the Iceberg Model – Box A (ultimate aims/values), Box B (core beliefs) and Box C (intended impact). Click here to see a visual of the Patty Iceberg Model.

We shared the content of Boxes A and B with Cabinet, IAC and Member Engagement.  Here are a few samples:

Box A – Our Ultimate Aims

In all things and with all colleagues, partners and stakeholders, WA Women’s Foundation will:

  • Be in community
  • Embrace discomfort
  • Elevate or amplify the power of all who identify as women

Box B – Our Core Beliefs

These beliefs and assumptions shape our work at WA Women’s Foundation:

  • Recognizing and challenging our conscious and unconscious biases leads to better decision-making
  • Philanthropy is a powerful force for change, and it is one of several tools available to us
  • Partnership-based relationships between nonprofits and philanthropists improve the condition of our community

Since August, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has met a total of six times, including last week. At that meeting, the Committee reviewed feedback from the Member Engagement Committee, Cabinet and IAC and made some changes to Boxes A, B and C.  The Committee also decided to convene a task force of past Pooled Fund Grant Committee leadership in March.  We are asking this group to meet for 3 hours to brainstorm how they might change our Pooled Fund Grant Committee process with our Ultimate Aims and Core Beliefs in mind.  Their concepts, and feedback from grantee interviews being conducted by Crux in early March, will be shared with the Board at another full-day retreat in March.  At the conclusion of the retreat, we hope to have a full framework of the plan to again share with subgroups of members.

We are not far away from bringing this process to a close, but I also think that we’re facing a new reality where strategic planning is never really DONE.  We’re always learning, evaluating and adapting – as a learning organization I expect we’ll always be transforming in some way.  Thank you for being part of the transformation.  And if you have any questions along the way, please call or email me. I value hearing from you.

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