Interestingly enough, a group that I am currently working with is in the process of conducting an outside needs assessment. I think this is such a wise move.
Over the years, I have led strategic planning and board development for quite some time. For those groups who have engaged me in the past for strategic planning, I strongly advocate that we take the time to do a full stakeholder assessment component through a comprehensive market research plan. Many groups, move ahead without me and without doing that needs assessment.
Well, one of the primary objectives of strategic planning is to determine if an organization is still relevant to the community that it serves. And, if the community has changed, how will they choose to respond to the findings, if at all.
The pure fact of the matters is that we are here to serve our stakeholders. We have a mission to serve a community to meet a need. Do we ever stop and assess how well we have met that need? Or have we ever stopped to assess to determine if that need still exists? Or if it exists, is it still in the same form and shape?
Demographics and populations change quite naturally as society does. Technology, societal views, cultural shifts may impact a demographic and their life choices, etc.
Do we as organizations make the assumption that the demographic and social ill that we were founded to alleviate, in some cases twenty years or more is still the same?
Are we making decisions based on old paradigms or trends or social problems?
How do we ensure that our organizations are still relevant? And, that our mission is impactful?
Or are we ensuring that we don’t go out of business because failure to look at the community means that we don’t have a look at whether or not we are needed any longer and to what degree?
I applaud this group for taking this step and for assessing their community. The data is rich. And, it will inform future discussions around mission and direction, about fundraising and case for supports, about capital campaigns, etc., etc., etc.
I urge you to take the same steps, and then to ask the tough question – what does relevancy mean? And, are we still relevant to those that we serve?
And, folks, this is the realm of governance. Something that your board should be asking and looking at in-depth.