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Becoming More Strategic

Last week we challenged you to increase your level of strategic thinking. This week we will help your parochial school step away from its old strategic model.

In the preceding article we suggest that changing your strategy from serving a group of individuals to serving the needs of a community (how ever you define community) has significant benefits that will increase your parochial school’s sustainability and enrollment. That is easily done when starting a new school. However, changing the strategy of an existing school requires a little planning:

1 Work with your board, a select group of significant donors, and the staff to select and define the new need-based strategy that is consistent with your mission and makes your school unique in the community

2 Change the way your Christian school talks about the current services and clients (need-based services that benefit the entire community but are provided to a select group of individuals)

3 Change the way you recruit, train, evaluate, and reward staff, volunteers, and board members to ensure everyone is focused on need-based services rather than client-based services

4 Begin changing the services with the goal of providing more benefits and value for the larger community

The first three steps lay the foundation for the fourth step. Part of laying the foundation is to begin the cultural change process from student services to need services. Unless your school is experiencing declining enrollment and declining donor support, taking six months to work through the first three steps will create a comfortable transition for your school, your school families, and your supporters.

Next Step:

Determine the best time to start the transition process

Monitor the reaction (positive and negative) of your school parents as you execute your plan

Monitor the impact (positive and negative) the transition is having on donor, volunteer, advocate, and referral source support

Reach out to your supporters who maybe uncertain about the change in strategy

Once you have made the transition to the new strategy, add a strategy review to your list of annual activities. During the annual strategic review, assess the changing needs of your community and determine what additional services are necessary to meet the evolving needs of your community. Every three years assess the definition of community to determine if a broader or narrower definition is appropriate.

The annual strategic review and the tri-annual community redefinition will ensure your school is always relevant and highly sustainable.

If you do a strategic review now, you may have new programming ready to announce in time for the 2013 enrollment cycle. The new programming could be just the boost your enrollment and student retention needs.

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