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Strategic Planning for Advancement

Case Study: Seven Counties Services (Louisville, KY)

Seven Counties Services was founded in 1978 and seeks to build healthy communities by helping individuals and families who are affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities, addictions and abuse realize their potential. It serves as the state-designated regional behavioral health and developmental services center for the core seven counties of Metro Louisville, and it is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Kentucky, with 1,400 employees assisted by more than 400 volunteers, all serving about 32,000 persons each year.

In 2007 the staff and board reached out to Ashley|Rountree for expert guidance in strategic planning, asking our consultant to create and guide a board retreat process that would result in a new multi-year plan for the entire organization. Although their organization is among the largest nonprofits in the state and the staff includes several of the region's most highly respected administrators, Seven Counties leaders realized that they needed unbiased assistance from the outside in order to assure that this planning process was open, thorough and responsive to long-term needs of the region. This activity, which took place in 2008, would also need to examine the fundraising or advancement plans in order to insure that funding was balanced. The consultant from Ashley|Rountree designed a comprehensive 2-day planning retreat that looked at mission, vision, situational and SWOT analyses, and programmatic/funding implications.

The process moved into specific strategies and action steps, followed by creation of a planning task force that implemented the recommendations from this retreat. In 2011, Seven Counties successfully and smoothly navigated a significant transition in its top leadership, a process that was assisted in great measure by the early planning efforts that were completed a few years earlier.

Steve Moss, Board Chair for Seven Counties, recalls, "the task of developing a strategic plan was daunting, but with the help of Jeff Ashley and Chris Stevenson, we conducted two all- day retreats that helped us really drill down into the process. With what we learned, the board and the staff are now a well-oiled machine. The staff has taken ownership and we have a document that serves as a lighthouse in the navigation of difficult times we are in."

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