Case study: Strategic Planning to Create Alignment in a Non-Profit Organization
Ivan Rosenberg
Ivan Rosenberg

The Alliance for Children’s Rights


The Alliance for Children’s Rights is Los Angeles County’s only non-profit free legal services organization devoted solely to protecting the rights of impoverished and abused children. Serving nearly 5,000 children annually, the Alliance has programs serving children who need adoptive families, are in the foster care system, need health care coverage and services, have learning or developmental disabilities, are mentally ill or had behavioral disorders, and those who are homeless or runaways.

In October 2002 Ms. Janis Spire became Executive Director of The Alliance for Children's Rights, replacing a charismatic and highly successful director. The new Director faced multiple challenges. Many of the Alliance's programs needed a coordinated long-term plan, and to build capacity and expertise to better support the community needs. There was also disagreement whether the organization should have a national or local focus. The Board and staff each felt not fully understood or appreciated by the other.


Ms. Spire engaged Frontier Associates to assist the organization in developing and implementing a plan to resolve these challenges. Her goals were to:
• Get the Board and the staff in agreement and focused on a clear purpose and a consistent long-term plan for the organization.
• Resolve the disparate programs in which the Alliance had gotten involved.
• Identify areas for growth and development.
• Establish a balance of work that served the needs of individual children as well as the need for system wide change.
• Resolve whether the Alliance was a Los Angeles County or national organization.
• Keep the Board engaged and active in securing resources.

We recommended that The Alliance use FAI's Strategic Planning approach to:
• Create a purpose and future goals for the organization that would generate passion and unity, and
• Create a long-term strategic plan for accomplishing these goals that would coalesce and focus the organization on its long-term and near-term priorities.

Over two days the Board and staff created a 30-year Strategic Plan, beginning with the creation of a commitment that "all children have a safe, loving, and permenant family", and working backwards to the present, including Strategic Goals, Strategies, and measurable Milestones.


Today, the Board and the staff are working as teammates, together fulfilling a future about which they all are passionate. Their goals are now clear and priorities are more easily set and adhered to.

A year after the strategic planning session, the Alliance Board Chair said: "Frontier's Future from the Future process helped us reach a place we had been trying to get to for several years. It provided the spark that took us to a new level. The result is a strategic plan that we use consistently to guide our decision-making. We have also found it easier to set new goals because the plan provides a strong foundation to build on.”