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Recreation Advocate

The OutdoorWire family websites feature news and information affecting outdoor recreation opportunities and access to public lands. 
3 minutes reading time (671 words)

Your Club as a Business – Start with a Plan

The casual conversation has produced an idea. Now, how do you turn the idea from an abstract thought into reality? What is it you want to accomplish? What is it you need to accomplish? All good ideas happen when they have a solid plan to support them.


So, what is a “plan”? A plan is intentional; a method of doing something that is worked out in detail before it is begun. A plan is a detailed list of steps to be done. A plan starts with a vision, or mission statement, of what is to be accomplished. A plan forces you to clarify your goals and how much money (time) you are willing to commit. Determine how you will allocate your time. Time is money and it is the most important asset you can invest. A plan helps you make a wise investment.

Your idea starts with shared values and vision. Whether your desire is for the camaraderie and social life of a club or grassroots activism to support your wheeling area, it should address certain factors.

A mission statement for your program describes in brief terms the focus of the organization. It is the formal document that states the goals of the organization. It is a brief description of the organization’s fundamental purpose and answers the question, “Why do we exist?” The mission statement should answer the following questions: 1) What are the opportunities or needs that we will address? 2) What are we doing to address these needs? And, 3) What principles or beliefs guide our efforts?

After determining “what” is to be accomplished, the plan needs to address “how” the effort will be accomplished. This describes in general terms how the mission of the organization will be accomplished. Determining the “how” draws on a wide range of knowledge from many different business disciplines: finance, human resource management, intellectual property management, supply management, operations management, and marketing. The “how” for a non-profit organization should contain enough information to guide the organization.

This is followed by a description of the structure of the organization. Will you have officers? Will you have a Board of Directors? What are the expected duties of the officers? How will officers and the Board of Directors be assigned?

Next comes a brief explanation of who can participate. An important element of organizations is membership. Membership is some combination of individuals or coalitions with other organizations with shared values and vision.

All organizations need to have a measurement that defines success. You have determined “who” and “how” the mission will be accomplished. A measurement of “success” will provide information that you are accomplishing your mission.

Finally, your plan should outline a series of steps for those who want to join. You have determined “who” can participate. Organizations and coalitions are about creating a role for everyone to participate and contribute something to reaching the goal. Matching a willing member's skills to the needs of the organization is what builds a strong organization.

It is important to note that three primary types of organizations exist: clubs, associations, and coalitions. Clubs are composed of like-minded individuals pursuing a common interest. Associations are composed of individuals and clubs and represent a broader collection of interests and retaining a strong focus on shares goals. Finally, coalitions are composed of individuals and groups with diverse interests but sharing a common goal.

In all cases, clearly defined organization mission and goals are important. Each individual member should clearly define their personal mission and goals to make sure their self-interests are part of the overall organization. Organization building requires both a willingness to set aside personal agendas for a common good, and a realistic understanding that addressing the self-interests of participants is crucial.

Organization should plan and carry out actions that are doable with concrete results. Their activities need to include fun and must affirm the strengths participants. The members need to take a long-range view, understanding that the organization's agenda will take time and persistence.

A well-defined plan will aid in the accomplishment of the organization goals.


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