July 6, 2013
ALHFAM is an organization that supports living history in its many forms, as well as living history farm and agricultural museums in North America and beyond. More specifically, ALHFAM exists to “…share practical knowledge…skills…experience, research and passion for participatory learning…to make history relevant to contemporary lives.” To strengthen ALHFAM’s services to members, ALHFAM’s board launched a strategic planning initiative and launched its three-year strategic plan in Spring 2011 with the overall Objective: “ To provide highly valued skill training, to a growing membership, using a range of existing & new delivery methods.” The plan identified three key areas on which to concentrate: skills training, membership and visibility, and communications.
The plan provided a road map for the past two years that helped ALHFAM realize the following major accomplishments:
- stabilize its membership,
- complete a major survey documenting existing skills as well as areas of need,
- increase its visibility using new social media (ALHFAM e-update, an ALHFAM blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channel),
- communicate effectively with tested media (ALHFAM-L, the Bulletin, the Proceedings),
- provide more purposeful conference programs at regional and annual conferences as a result of the membership Skills Survey, and
- realign administrative committees in keeping with Strategy Planks
All good plans allow for review and refinement. On June 13, 2013, a team of board and non-board members reviewed accomplishments and drafted the 2013-2015 Strategic Plan. The plan will help the board prioritize action and resource allocation for the next two years. Board members implement the plan in two steps: through service on one of four planks through which they articulate priorities and dedicate resources to accomplish the plank. ALHFAM will accomplish the objective one task at a time as part of the work of administrative committees, regional and annual conference committees, Professional Interest Groups, social media and traditional publication venues, and individual networking.
The DRAFT 2013-2015 Strategic Plan follows the model that consultant Mike Krug helped the board create between Fall 2010 and Summer 2011, and that ALHFAM President, Bruce Henbest, wrote about in the Winter, Spring and Summer 2011 issues of the ALHFAM Bulletin. The main Objective remains: “To provide highly valued skill training, to a growing membership, using a range of existing & new delivery methods.” The revised plan identifies a strategy (“How we will increase our services and grow our membership!”) with key priorities, or strategy planks. The following summarizes the strategy planks, board members chairing the plank, and plans to accomplish the plank:
1) Skills Training (Pete Watson): Provide unique, relevant and quality skill training opportunities, with easy access.
- Develop system to update and maintain member skills database.
- Develop a calendar to promote training opportunities offered by ALHFAM and its associated groups.
- Establish a mechanism to ensure that skills training is incorporated into regional and annual conference planning guidelines.
- Identify and develop components of highly-rated skills training (object based, hands-on & virtual).
- Consistently implement & share training evaluations that are standardized & immediate.
2) Communications (Heidi Glatfelter): Provide quality content that addresses member preferences in a professional format that demonstrates our unique identity, using a range of media.
- Develop content standards, strategies, policies & guidelines for social media.
- Establish branding standards and guidelines for all communication materials and collateral.
- Disseminate submission timelines across communication platforms.
- Redesign website to improve member communication and public face of ALHFAM.
3) Membership and Visibility (Ian Beard): Retain and add active, contributing members.
- Increase visibility and relevance among those who engage people with history.
- Seek ongoing feedback and input from people who use ALHFAM services about those services for assessment purposes.
- Target opportunities for ALHFAM membership growth.
4) Development/Stewardship (Debra Reid): To ensure that professional levels of ALHFAM services continue and have adequate human and financial resources dedicated to them.
- Create Skills Training Committee to implement Strategy Plank 1.
- Develop succession plan for key ALHFAM positions.
- Ensure organizational continuity to further Strategy Planks 1, 2, & 3 by diversifying income streams.
- Streamline membership records.
The board is still working on the action steps required to make these planks and plans a reality over the next two years. The board will discuss action steps and individual responsibilities for these during the Fall 2013 board meeting.
All who have participated in this Strategic Planning activity to date should feel proud of their accomplishments. ALHFAM is stronger because of their thoughtful work. Thanks to Mike Krug for providing solid direction to the board during the Fall 2010 and special Spring 2011 retreat, and to Bruce Henbest who helped keep the ALHFAM board attentive to their tasks. The plan will continue to guide ALHFAM administrative decisions and tasks for the foreseeable future.
Debra A. Reid, ALHFAM President