Thank you to the shining community leaders for joining us in our first workshop series of the year – Strategic Planning 101 and 102! The workshop falls under Hearts of Gold’s Community Assistance Program (CAP), which works to support grassroots organizations and their leaders to be more sustainable and impactful in the work they do. Our goal is to help these community leaders and their organizations to survive and thrive! In order to do so, Hearts of Gold has developed the Changemakers Training Program, which is a full year of capacity building workshops and networking dialogues intended to train and bring together grassroots leaders in Ecuador.
We were delighted to be joined by 8 community leaders from 6 grassroots organizations who successfully completed 7 hours of training in the 2017 pilot workshop in Strategic Planning. Thank you to these leading community changemakers for joining us for these influential sessions and sharing your experiences in the field! We had the pleasure to collaborate with Fundacion El Arenal, CETAP-Lucy, Nova Educational Center, FUPEC, ADACAPIA, and the Asociacion Artesanal from Gualaceo.
The Strategic Planning workshop series was chosen by Hearts of Gold as the pilot workshop for 2017’s Changemakers Training Program so that community leaders could start the year with a strong base and clear vision in their programs and activities. Strategic Planning falls under the “Strategy” capacity of the CAP. In total CAP targets 8 capacity areas for development – organizational infrastructure, finances, strategy, performance management, revenue generation and fundraising, marketing and communications, donor stewardship and management, and volunteer management.
In Strategic Panning 101 we studied the importance of having a strategic plan, mission, vision and values, and began mapping our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In Strategic Planning 102 We began to look at how to set and write short term and long term goals and objectives, and how strategic plans are carried out by the strategies and activities that live inside of each objective.
Participants shared their lessons learned and experiences from the field, and began to plant the seeds for a network of nonprofit leaders in Cuenca. Leaders engaged in captivating conversation on the similar challenges they face in their positions and in their at-risk communities. When speaking about strengths and weaknesses, many leaders commented that they were very proud of their teams, but had a fear of what would happen if an expert team member would leave the organization. Many also spoke about the stress of financial insecurity and the burden that it puts on the organizations’ operations. We utilized a strengths-based model to encourage leaders to think of how we could use our strategic plans to prevent or overcome weaknesses or threats.
We were so happy to see our participants leave with smiling faces and inspiration to take the information gathered in the workshop back to their teams. Most of the leaders present had never used a strategic plan to make a short term or long term plan for their organizations, nor had they analyzed their mission and circumstances to coincide with their plan of activities. All of the participants left the workshop enthusiastic to collaborate with their teams, and commented that they felt they could focus and be more effective in their programs if they put their strategic plan to use.
It is important to remember that most community leaders in Ecuador do not have formal training or education in nonprofit management. These are leaders that are working in their communities because they have a passion to get involved and make a difference in the life of another. We could not be more proud of these leaders for stepping up to the plate with a drive to learn and improve through capacity building workshops and networking. We are looking forward to the next charla (dialogue) on nonprofit leadership and self-care, and the next taller (workshop) on fundraising!