How to Create a Strategic Plan for Your Branch

Developing a strategic plan is one of the key ways you can rejuvenate your branch’s focus on AAUW’s mission and engage your members with your branch and its activities.

AAUW’s strategic planning guide will take you through the process of creating a vision of success, establishing goals, and developing an action plan for the next two years.

Download the strategic planning meeting facilitator’s agenda and participant guide and read the tips below to ensure sure your strategic planning process is a success.

Download the facilitator’s agenda      Microsoft Office – Word Document — 27 KB

Download the participant guide       Microsoft Office – Word Document — 68 KB

Creating your strategic plan

Involve your membership.

Working collaboratively with your members to create your strategic plan will show them that their opinions are valuable, build investment in the direction of the branch, and create opportunities for members to step into executing the plan. Consider opening the strategic planning meeting to all members and encourage rising leaders to participate.

Set aside ample time.

Strategic planning is an in-depth process and as such cannot be done in a few hours. However, the time investment is well worth it in the long run.

We recommend that you complete the process in one full-day meeting. This will ensure the best results and investment among participants. If you need to split up the process into two meetings, however, you should plan two half-day meetings in subsequent weeks. This should not be done at a regular branch meeting and picked up a month later at the next; by that time you will have lost the momentum from your first meeting and participants will have trouble picking up where you left off. The sample facilitator’s agenda will take you through the process step by step for both the full-day and half-day meeting options.

Establish community agreements.

When you’re working with a group on an in-depth process such as this one, it is helpful to establish norms, called community agreements, to ensure that your meeting is effective. For a successful meeting, you will want to encourage participants to be present and engaged for the whole meeting. You will also want to anticipate and set agreements to mitigate potential conflict and disruptive behaviors so that everyone is able to participate and walk away feeling positive about the process. The facilitator’s agenda includes suggestions and instructions for taking the lead on setting ground rules.

Implementing your strategic plan

Create a structure that enables you to accomplish your plan.

Some of the goals of your strategic plan may correlate easily with positions on your board, while others may be new focus areas that are not currently built into your structure. Consider what structure will help you accomplish your new plan effectively, and assign responsibilities accordingly. Committees are a great way to bring more womanpower to your goals and engage new leaders.

Refer to your plan.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in strategic planning is creating a plan and then letting it sit on the shelf. Your plan should be kept somewhere accessible to your members, and you should return to it periodically to check your progress and make sure you are on track.

Make changes as needed.

Think of your strategic plan as a living, breathing document. It’s important to set goals and stick to them, but it’s also important to adapt to changing realities and challenges you may face after the strategic plan has been created. If you set big goals for a new program and two months in you realize that you aimed too high, revisit those goals and adjust them as needed. It’s always better to adjust goals so that they are motivating and achievable.

Share your vision with new members.

Your strategic plan is a powerful vision for where you are headed as a branch and can help you engage new members. Again, make sure the strategic plan is accessible to new members, but more important, provide new members with an overview of where your branch is headed and ask them how they would like to be involved in making it happen.


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