Frequently Asked Questions
Creating more diverse and inclusive boards is one of the most important challenges facing nonprofits today. A growing body of knowledge suggests that we should begin by identifying what the ideal profile of our board would look like with respect to sectors represented, skill sets, and demographics (age, race, residence, gender, ethnicity, etc.). Only then can we structure specific actionable plans on how best to “fill in the gaps.” Doing so will probably require that we commit to the effort for the long term and are willing to consider changes in how we identify and recruit new trustees. It may well require that we evaluate our staffing and programs through that same lens. Creating a path to service on the governing board, with new opportunities to serve in other important ways, may also help us better reflect the communities we serve.
If you don’t have a Strategic Plan currently in place, the answer is “now!” Having said that, organizations often launch strategic planning initiatives when they are facing a change in executive leadership. Some do it to help them identify the perfect candidate. Others do it soon after they have a new executive in place so that he or she can help the organization chart a new course. Strategic planning can also be important when organizations are confronted with significant and often unanticipated programmatic, financial, or regulatory challenges.
“Traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes visitation to cultural, historic, and natural resources.” (Source: National Trust for Historic Preservation)
There are several specific actions you can take to make sure your plan isn’t relegated to a shelf in a matter of weeks or months. Having clear and quantifiable goals that become the basis for periodic reports on programming, fundraising, finances, and governance will help you “live into” your Strategic Plan. Charging one senior staff member or standing committee of the board with an annual comprehensive review of the Plan is another good idea. Integrating your Strategic Plan into your orientation process for new staff and board members also helps institutionalize the process.
The United National World Tourism Organization defines Cultural Tourism as “movements of persons for essentially cultural motivations such as study tours, performing arts and cultural tours, travel to festivals and other cultural events, visits to sites and monuments, travel to study nature, folklore or art, and pilgrimages.”
Heritage Tourism, as defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes visitation to cultural, historic, and natural resources.”
Heritage tourism is often “place-based” – the resources are specific to, and significant because, of their location (example: an author’s home, a landmark where an important event occurred, etc.) Cultural tourism is often “people-based” through engagement and learning of local traditions, but also can include a blockbuster exhibit at an art museum or music concert at an amphitheater.
The motivation of the visitor, and what activities they engage in during their trip, distinguishes their profile as a “cultural tourist” or “heritage tourist.” The agency or entity overseeing the program also may emphasize heritage tourism (preservation, historical societies, state tourism, or rural destination marketing organizations) or cultural tourism (arts, cultural organizations, state tourism, urban destination marketing organizations) to define their focus. However, research has revealed that visitors engaging in historic and cultural activities are similar in profile. This commonality in the market profile has led to a more inclusive segment of “cultural heritage tourism” or “cultural & heritage tourism.” Hargrove International, Inc. recognizes the importance of history and culture to travel experiences and focuses on an inclusive approach to asset-based economic development with history, culture, and nature as the foundation for sustainable tourism.
Current strategic planning methodology is designed to help organizations view themselves in new and creative ways, and position themselves for continued growth and development. The focus is on creating a process that helps an organization deal effectively with change – whether in the form of opportunity or threat – while staying true to its mission and vision, and without losing sight of its most important long term goals. Taking full advantage of the Strategic Plan requires an annual review and update (usually addressed during the development of the annual operating plan and budget), while a comprehensive revision may occur only every five years or so, or when special circumstances dictate.
Terms – usually two to four years in length – are helpful. They allow an organization and its directors to plan for the long term. And terms provide an opportunity for each to evaluate directors’ service on a planned periodic basis. Opinions vary on the value of term limits, but they do tend to incent organizations to always be on the lookout for new talent and new perspectives.
A simple answer would be “as large as it needs to be.” And while that response recognizes that there is no absolute answer to the question, boards have been getting smaller. One landmark study by BoardSource of more than 1,700 nonprofits indicates the average size of governing boards has decreased on average from 19 to 15 members over the past 20 years.
A Development Audit – often referred to as a Development Assessment – is designed to determine an organization’s ability to raise annual operating support. While it is similar to a Feasibility Study in several aspects, it is almost always internally-focused, may include comparative analysis with “best practice” organizations, and does not include usually confidential conversations with current or prospective funders.
Most Strategic Plans include certain key components: mission and vision statements, goals, strategies, and implementation plans. But the more important question to ask is “what do we want our Strategic Plan to accomplish?” Do we need to re-evaluate our mission in light of recent developments? Are we facing a sea change with respect to funding or regulatory issues? Do we need help scaling our organization so we can serve significantly more people? Are we confronted with new and unanticipated competition? Once you have identified what “key issues” your organization needs to address, you can structure the best and most appropriate planning process.