Why a strategic plan matters at the unit level

Posted On: Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Following the completion of the American Legion Auxiliary’s 5-Year Centennial Strategic Plan in 2019, ALA National Headquarters staff and volunteers began working on the current strategic plan. Launching in October 2020, NHQ has already seen results for the first quarter.
You may be wondering what this means at the local level and why members should care. The phrase “strategic planning” may seem complicated and something you may not need at the unit level. But strategic planning is important for organizations and businesses — no matter the size — to prioritize objectives and reach long-term goals. It helps every level of our organization focus on the priorities and the steps needed to have success at all levels. This will ensure the ALA continues its longstanding mission of serving veterans, military, and their families long into the future. 
Think of strategic planning in the same way you would your personal goals. Have you made a plan for retirement? What steps do you need to take to reach your post-employment objectives? Are you planning a job change? What do you need to do to make that happen? In both of these scenarios, you need to have a plan and know what action you need to take.
The ALA’s national Strategic Planning Committee will develop strategics and tactics that can be applied at the unit level. After all, we need our units and members in order to make our mission successful. One such strategy will be for units to build a stronger relationship with The American Legion. Our Legion Family can achieve great success if we all work together toward our common collective missions. 
Goals of the national ALA strategic plan: 

  • Cultivate a variety of mission engagement opportunities. 
  • Enhance organizational effectiveness of all levels: national, department, unit.
  • Recruit and retain members through mission engagement. 
  • Ensure financial stewardship of resources to maximize mission delivery.
  • Enhance and foster the family relationship with The American Legion. 
This strategic plan differs in many ways from the previous national plan:
  • The National Executive Committee/governing board still adopts goals, but NHQ staff, with input from volunteers, implements the strategies to reach the goals. 
  • Moving forward, division budgets will include resources to implement strategies and tactics, as opposed to the previous plan, which had its own strategic plan budget. This time, no strategic planning reserves will be established.
  • Individual staff performance will be tied to division strategic plans. Previously, staff was taxed with completing regular job duties AND strategic plan duties, which often had nothing to do with their core job functions. 
  • Metrics will be used to evaluate, report, and, when necessary, modify strategies, allowing the ALA to monitor progress and recognize achievements — two things members noticed were lacking from the previous plan.
The current strategic plan will allow us to have multiple accomplishments in each area. During quarter one of the plan, NHQ saw progress in each of the goals. Here are just a few of the accomplishments:
  • Launched a refreshed ALA national website, enabling more visibility and awareness to the public. 
  • Membership: Since the launch of the redesigned website, there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of dues renewed online compared to the same period last year.
  • On #GivingTuesday last fall, the ALA Foundation raised $56,000 from 595 donations. This surpasses 2019’s total by more than $11,000 and 100 donors.
  • ALA Academy Live webinars, designed to enhance mission delivery, are reaching more unit-level members.
  • ALA Academy self-paced courses are now easier to access and have refreshed content and new features — an added benefit for ALA members.
At the end of each quarter, NHQ division directors will evaluate the plan to make sure progress is being made toward accomplishing the strategies. This allows for adjustments to made if necessary.
We’d love to hear how your unit is using a strategic plan. Email us at ALAMagazine@ALAforVeterans.org.

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.