Strategic Organizational and Conservation Consulting
The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) is committed to the protection and management of the native prairies and savanna of the Upper Midwest. TPE works to restore, protect, and manage prairies, oak savannas, and other associated ecosystems, and to educate the public about the importance of protecting these distinctive ecosystems. The group has 11 chapters in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.
“I heard Sara Wilson of MAYES | WILSON & ASSOCIATES (MWA) at a presentation, and I was impressed with her knowledge of issues pertaining to planning for organizational sustainability,” said TPE Board President Jack Kussmaul. TPE brought in MWA to develop a strategic plan that would help guide and finance the group’s future, and clarify the role of the Executive Director and Board.
MWA’s planning processes are always tailored to an organization’s specific challenges and needs. In the case of TPE, MWA worked in close cooperation with the Executive Director and a Board sub-committee to develop a process that would be inclusive of the leadership and volunteers throughout the entire organization. MWA identified a critical need to reach out and engage the group’s 11 regional chapters to increase participation, engagement, and cohesion organization-wide.
The strategic planning process began with a comprehensive survey of constituents (leaders, volunteers and financial supporters), and two major goals: 1) to build a plan for a strong and sustainable future and 2) to create stronger connections between TPE and its affiliate chapters in order to facilitate the community-based conservation conversations throughout the organization.
The MWA team led the development of questions for constituents, compiled and analyzed the results, and presented an accessible and easy to understand final report. A key finding of the survey was a “structural tension” expressed succinctly in one survey response: “Each Chapter has a tendency to think of itself as autonomous; connection to other chapters feels less important than perhaps it should.”
This finding, along with others – such as the “human capacity” of key stakeholders and volunteers to maintain the necessary pace of education, fundraising, and management – laid the foundation on which MWA built a strategic plan for TPE. “One of the great outcomes of working with Sara is that, because she made sure we involved all our Chapters, we now have stronger relationships and we are all more aligned in our efforts,” said Kussmaul.
The process of encouraging participation in the survey also offered a key opportunity for TPE’s new Executive Director to reach out to all Chapters and reinforce the relationship between the umbrella organization and its offshoots across the Midwest.
“We needed someone to provide guidance and help us learn from the experiences of similar groups,” said Kussmaul. “MWA delivered a multi-phased strategic plan for the next three years that gives us a strong framework and clear objectives. We are implementing it, and we are seeing results!”
“MWA delivered a
plan for the next three
years that gives us a
strong framework and
We are implementing it,
and we are seeing results!”
— The Prairie Enthusiasts