April 2024 Newsletter

“Two Important Ingredients for 2024-2025: “PD” and “SGP”

Professional Development and Strategic Growth Plan. In the battle today for individual sanity and institutional survival, these two ingredients rise to the top as we begin to put the “wrap” on the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Professional Development

First, let me get my bias out of the way. ISPD is hosting our annual Summer Development School here in New Orleans on June 18 – 20. This will be the 35th anniversary of our company. Would I like to see you attend? Absolutely! However, there is more to this newsletter on professional development than just a “pitch” for our annual conference. Enough said.

Back when I was a Catholic school administrator and development director, I never really thought about professional development. Sure, there were archdiocesan events where I would see the same people I always saw – which was valuable, but that wasn’t high on my to-do list. Then for some reason, I received a brochure for a 4-day development conference in Orlando, FL. I decided to go, and from then on I was convinced of the value of “getting better at my trade.”

The previous school year had been a pressure cooker, going from one event to another with very little downtime. I was looking forward to that 4-6 week “slow down” in my schedule. Was it worth it to take personal time during the summer to attend a conference? My peers got the best of me, especially a Mercy Sister who was always pushing me to improve. I signed up and flew to Orlando. What an experience!

As you move into the summer months and are possibly considering PD, I encourage you to say YES. There are a number of conferences throughout the country – in development/advancement, STEM, technology, enrollment management, stewardship, athletics, Catholic Identity, the student experience, board development, and more.

Let me share 7 benefits:

  1. You can get away, even if the conference is in your city. You are able to step outside of the normal hectic world in which you reside, take a deep breath, and look at your profession (and life) from a more objective point of view.
  2. You are able to network with other people from other areas of the country who do the same thing as you. Many attendees are principals, presidents, pastors, advancement directors, superintendents, admissions directors, marketing/communication directors, teachers, board members, etc. Many of them face the same challenges that you face, and having those conversations in a conference session or over a meal or over a glass of wine can just put things into a different perspective.
  3. You can learn new concepts and processes or simply reinforce beliefs that you already have.
  4. You receive resource materials that you can take back to your school and/or parish and begin to implement.
  5. You can make lifelong connections with people who come into your life at these conferences. Two of my closest professional friends are people that I met at that Orlando conference.
  6. You can enhance your career by demonstrating strong commitment to professional development which can enhance your reputation and credibility.
  7. And one of the most important: You can become rejuvenated and grab some relaxation. Many conferences take place in attractive locations, allowing you to combine professional development with leisure activities.

Strategic Growth Plan

Henri Nouwen once said, “Vision gives us the courage to tell our story when we might otherwise have remained silent.” As you move out of the 2023-24 fiscal year and get ready for 2024-25, what is your vision for the future? Can you verbally, visually, and in the written word articulate that vision?

Vision can be created through a vibrant Strategic Growth Plan, a component that some Catholic schools have in place and one that many Catholic parishes have yet to create. Without it, the future could be shaky. With it, the future can be exciting, appealing, and attractive. For close to 35 years, ISPD has worked with schools and parishes in creating their Strategic Growth Plan by engaging people to become involved and become stewards. Can you imagine the feeling of speaking with prospective donors, new school families, new parishioners, community leaders, alumni of your school and being able to clearly articulate an exciting Plan? Are you ready for the next 3-5 years?

To create a Strategic Growth Plan, there is a process. You may need outside facilitation, but there are steps to take and fulfill. Here are ours:

  1. Formation of Executive Committee (3-5 people who are the decision-makers)
  2. Assessment of the present state of the school and/or parish through surveys, questionnaires, interviews, input/listening sessions, and demographic studies
  3. Formation of a Steering Committee (15-18 leaders in your Catholic school and/or parish) to work hand-in-hand with the Executive Committee and steer the process
  4. Decision on what Planning Areas to use in the planning process
  5. Formation of Planning Area Teams around those Planning Areas with the focus of those Teams being on:
    • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of each Planning Area
    • Creation of Purpose Statement for each Planning Area
    • Creation of six or less Challenges for each Planning Area
    • Creation of strategic solutions to the Challenges
  6. Creation of community-wide Convocation to SOLVE THE CHALLENGES
  7. Creation of the final Strategic Growth Plan
  8. Publication of the SGP to all constituents
  9. Implementation of the Strategic Growth Plan utilizing teams based upon the Planning Areas
  10. Celebration of success!

Professional Development and Strategic Growth Plan. Let’s be proactive in getting ready for 2024-25 and beyond.

This newsletter was written by ISPD president Frank Donaldson. Join us each month as one of the ISPD associates shares her/his thoughts on how to grow your Operational Vitality efforts.


ISPD: We stand ready to partner with you and your parish and/or school leaders in creating that new strategic growth plan, in conducting a feasibility study and capital campaign, in enhancing your enrollment management efforts, in assessing your development/advancement processes, in creating that written strategic plan for development/advancement/stewardship, in working with you to build the people base in your parish, and much more.

Please join us this summer (June 18 – 20) at the New Orleans Riverside Hilton as ISPD celebrates our 35th anniversary with our annual Development School. This year’s theme: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes. Visit https://ispdconsulting.com/summer-development-school/ for more information.

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