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ARCS Atlanta Strategic Plan Update, by Susan McGonigle

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

After months of work with a professional consultant and the input from our membership, donors, and academic partners, our chapter developed a comprehensive 3-year strategic plan, and last January, that plan was approved by our membership. Nearly a year into the plan, we have made substantial in-roads on all four strategic priorities. In the time of COVID-19, our chapter’s activities had to change dramatically and that meant reimagining the Scholar Awards Luncheon, switching to remote meetings, and changing how we raise money; much of what was done, said, and printed was all informed by our strategic plan.

Our first strategic priority is to grow our donations and diversify our donor base.  We have seen a substantial increase in the number of members donating above and beyond dues.  Roughly 60% of our current board members gave $1,000 more than dues, and close to half of our active members make some sort of donation in addition to paying dues.  In a year when we cannot engage corporate prospects in person, Funds Development also created a plan to introduce potential donors and engage them with ARCS Atlanta, further diversifying our base of donors.

As VP of Public Relations, Ellen Adair Wyche has had her plate full as she led the effort to improve awareness of ARCS as an organization that champions and raises funds to support college and graduate-level research scientists in GA.  Ellen Adair and her team created a comprehensive marketing plan, defined and produced the vision for our scholar celebration, and have an on-going plan to share stories about our donors and scholars in an effort to improve awareness of ARCS and its mission.  

Our strategic priority to engage and inspire our membership has taken on unexpected forms this year due to corona restrictions.  Patty Reid, Frances Swensson, and Deede Stephenson pulled together a wonderful virtual orientation and mentor program for our newest members.  Willingness to Serve surveys were sent out in anticipation of the nominating committee’s meeting and we have had an education event online!  There is already planning underway for next year’s events in hopes that a vaccine is near!

There was significant progress on priority number #4 regarding the acquisition of professional administrative and technical support. In June, the board voted to hire ASG, the management firm that works with our national organization, and we were able to tackle several items on our strategic plan’s to-do list.  Hopefully by now, you have all seen the new and improved website!  Leslie Petter, Nancy Chambers, the Funds Development team, and Ellen Adair Wyche have worked closely together to improve the look and the contents of the website – if you have not visited recently, please take a look.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised and impressed.  Additionally, ASG, with the guidance of Erin Dasher, has put together a comprehensive social media calendar and feed across several platforms.  We are featuring scholar stories, donor stories, and member profiles on Facebook and Instagram.  Make sure you are following us! We have also launched an email campaign to bolster funds development; with the tag line, #IamARCSAtlanta, courtesy of Shelley Whiting, ASG sends out monthly emails to highlight the work of our scholars and the donors. 

Despite the enormous progress, our chapter still has much to do.  We are fast approaching our 30th anniversary and there are plans to be made around our desire to increase our endowment.  We are still working to get every member to donate to ARCS above and beyond our dues, and of course, our pursuit of new donors, corporate or individual is on-going. 

There is no telling what 2021 will bring, but luckily for ARCS Atlanta, we have a flexible and unifying road map.  Our commitment to our vision remains strong: ARCS Atlanta will continue Funding STEM scholars who will change the world.