Strategic Planning Workshop

(posted: September 29, 2017)

Strategic Planning Workshop Sept 2017

Welcome to this workshop that will take us into the important reasoning for strategic planning within SSVP National, and Ontario Regional, and how and why it is good for your councils and conferences.

By attending this workshop, you are telling me that you are interested in strategic planning and that may be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • You believe in strategic planning and want to learn more
  • You have heard about strategic planning and want to know more about it
  • You are not sure SSVP needs strategic planning but you are curious about it
  • Your president or member from your Conference/Council is sitting in on another workshop and you were asked to sit in on this one


None of these reasons really matter because when you leave here, you will know why strategic planning is so important to SSVP, to your councils and your conferences, and to you.  Yes, strategic planning is important to you as Vincentians.

Let’s ask a few questions to get a sense of where we are all at when it comes to the strategic plan.

How many people here know that National has a strategic plan? 

How many of you have read the National strategic plan?

How many people here know that ONRC has a strategic plan?

How many of you have read the Ontario strategic plan?

Are there any councils here who actually have your own strategic plan?  (Yes/No)  If so, can you tell me how it fits with the Ontario and National strategic plans?  (4 pillars are Ozanam, Vincentian Works, Promotion & Development)

Has anyone in your conferences or councils discussed taking action (not taken action but discussed taking action) on one or more of the goals/actions from the ONRC plan?

Has anyone yet in your conferences or councils started taking action on a new goal/action from the ONRC plan? 

Do you know where you can find copies of the National and Ontario strategic plans?

By the end of this workshop, you will see what the ONRC strategic plan looks like (which was prepared following National’s model), you will understand why the strategic plan is important to SSVP, why the Strategic Plan is important to your councils and your conferences and to you.  Hopefully we will have your commitment to take up the challenge to take action on one or more initiatives outlined within the ONRC Strategic Plan. 

Is there anyone here who can tell us the purpose of a strategic plan? 

Simply stated, the purpose of a Strategic Plan is to have a road-map to steer the Society from where we are currently, to where we want to be at some point in the not too distant future. It is a set of goals and targets that the Society wants to accomplish which are intended to make improvements or changes that benefit the Society in the way we carry out our mandate to “help in all possible ways”.  It is actually many things even including how we grow in our own spirituality.  The Strategic Plan is not only for the higher councils, National and Ontario, but it is a plan for every council, for every conference, and for every Vincentian.  It’s a road-map that steers all Vincentians, all conferences, and all councils in a very targeted path so that we can all make progress in the same supportive direction since as we are all part of a global family.

The definition of strategic planning in Wikipedia is “it’s an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy”.

So you may be asking why do we need a Strategic Plan and how does it work?

Let’s look at the first question - Why is it so important that we have a strategic plan?   Does anyone have any thoughts?

I would like to share that all major corporations have strategic plans and they use them like this: 

The highest level (executive office) usually sets goals of growth or achievements they want to see happen during the coming year or beyond, then the operating management teams identify what they will do to support the higher goals, then the departmental management teams identify projects they will undertake to support the higher goals, and the front line managers work hard to make the projects successful.  (it is a top down creation)
Then at the end of the year, the process is reversed where lower level managers say what they accomplished in support of the goals, and then the departmental management teams say how the goals were accomplished, and the reporting continues through each successive level all the way back up to the top executive office. (it is a bottom up reporting)
When all this is done, managers can be rated on how successful they were and performance bonuses can be awarded according to their achievements. 

Now this last step of the bonuses is not necessary for the Society, but the identification of goals (from the top) and then the reporting from councils and conferences (from the grass roots) are both necessary for a successful strategic plan.  So in this alone, you can see how conferences, particular and central councils all have a very important role to play in any strategic plan.  This is a very important point to remember.

Now we are all faced with challenges.  National Council faces the challenging task of leading the Society’s councils and conferences from across Canada in a structured and unified way.  National has created a plan to help steer all of us on a path that strengthens every conference in four basic pillars – Ozanam, Vincentian Works, Promotion and Development.

Our regional councils are also faced with a challenge. Falling in line with National’s lead, Ontario Regional has created a strategic plan that builds on those 4 pillars and sets in place some very specific goals and actions which will help us all achieve success within a goal and with achievable and measurable targets.   

Let’s see where we can find the strategic plans.

1. For National, go to

2. For ONRC, go to

You will note that the black font under each goal/action is taken directly from the National Strategic Plan; the red font are the goals/actions identified by ONRC in their strategic plan, and ONRC also added Measurable Outcomes in the plan.

Now, let’s look at some examples of goals and actions as set out in the ONRC strategic plan. 


1.2 Parish Support

· Action 1.2.A. Conference Presidents will meet with their Parish Priest 2 times/year to share the good works of the Society in the Community.
Conference Presidents should ask for a brief meeting with their pastor to touch base.  You can tell the pastor that you want to keep him ‘in the loop’ about the conference and its coming events.

Who should attend? 

  • President
  • Spiritual Advisor
  • And potentially your Vice President

What type of information should be presented?

  • First and foremost, a heartfelt  thank you for the support from the pastor and the parish
  • The current membership list, including names and contact information.  The pastor should have this so he knows who to contact about any needs that he encounters.  He should be able to contact members of the executive in the event that the president is not available.
  • A brief report should be given on the number of home visits made by conference members in the last year.
  • A report on any special works or special events
  • An explanation of any plans in the works

What could you request from the pastor?

  • Ask for the continued support of the pastor and the parish with thanks again for the past support – you can never say thank you too often
  • Permission to use parish facilities for the next year  (Don’t assume you will continue to have this)
  • Ask for co-operation and support, as needed, for the coming year (such as Christmas program?  Feast day celebration?  Any new initiative?)
  • Ask for permission to speak about the Society before all masses, at least once a year usually in September in celebration of the Feast Day of Saint Vincent de Paul.
  • Any other items specific to your conference

· Action 1.2.D. Conferences will have at least 1 annual verbal presentation during all masses on the closest Sunday to the feast day of Saint Vincent de Paul.

I have a couple of sample talks that can be used and tweaked for your specific Conference which are being handed out:

Vincentian Works

2.1. Home Visits

· Action 2.1.A. Councils/Conferences will provide a minimum of one workshop annually for new and current members (refresher training for current members).

You can refer to the Home Visit training module on National website or Ontario website at
This annual training is very important and provides an opportunity to capture Vincentians previously not trained and New Vincentians, as well as a refresher for anyone.  We are aware that some communities do not do home visits for various reasons, and our hope is to have this training provided to anyone interested even in communities where home visits do not take place in order to allow those interested in home visits to have the opportunity of experiencing this.  This could then bring back home visits to those communities.
The real challenge in the home visit training is the skill of the Trainer.  The training module by itself is not enough, you want to motivate/inspire your audience.  ONRC will be looking at developing Trainers in 2018 who can attend and provide training in communities interested.

You can also find a video on home visits on the Toronto Central Council website at


3.4 Marketing

· Action 3.4.B. Conferences/Councils/ONRC will use the National copyrighted brand/logo on all communications including interior, exterior and vehicle signage, stationary and all forms of social media.

I have the National Branding document which is being handed out:

. Action 3.4.C. Councils will develop a Marketing Plan with the assistance of ONRC sample template.

Refer to document on Ontario website at


4.7 Succession Planning

· Action 4.7.A. Conference/Council Presidents will identify Vincentians with leadership skills and encourage/support them to take on leadership roles.

This is an ongoing process for Presidents to always engage members to use their skills and support members to take on leadership roles.  Identify and invite potential leaders with personal invitation outlining what skills you see in them making them a good fit for that leadership role.  In addition, it’s important to mentor potential leaders.

· Action 4.7.B. Council/Conference President elections will take place 6 months prior to the current President term ending, allowing for seamless transition of leadership.

There are areas where Presidents have been in place longer than their term and it’s important to have new leaders brought in bringing new creative ideas and rejuvenating Conferences / Councils; by having election 6 months prior to current term ending, this helps with seamless transition and mentoring by current President.  Some of you would have heard Phil Bondy’s Succession Planning Workshop last night which helps to identify & invite a new President to take on the role.  If your Conference or Council is struggling with identifying and inviting a new leader, be sure to invite Phil to do his Succession Planning workshop to assist in identifying potential leader.  His email is on the website.


Now let’s examine one very important aspect of each and every goal set out above.  They all identify who is responsible for accomplishing that task.  They are identifying you in your councils, you in your conferences and even you as individuals.  National and Ontario Regional are trying to steer the Society on the right path of growth, but it is in the Conferences, Particular Councils and Central Councils, where the greatest work of the Society is being done.  It is in the conferences and councils where we accomplish success in the strategic plan. It is you in the conferences, Particular Councils and Central Councils, whether you are president or not, who is the most critically important person in the accomplishment of the goals within the strategic plan and it is you who will effect a change in Society along a consistent growth path.  Then at the end, it is once again you in the Conferences and Particular and Central Councils who will report what you have done, what you have accomplished, how you have succeeded, and what you might want to do next in support of the strategic plan.  It is you who must take up the challenge of reading the plan, accepting the plan, taking responsibility for some actions identified within the plan, and reporting to your higher councils on your actions.

Now your councils and conferences are facing some challenges. Your councils and conferences are who is responsible for achieving some of the goals as set out in the ONRC plan.

And ultimately, you are facing a challenge

So, my question to you is will you accept the challenge to make the commitment to read the Ontario strategic plan document?  Will you support the Ontario Strategic Plan by selecting one or two new goals and take action in the next year guiding the Society into greater unified growth and success?  Will you solicit others within your councils and conferences to embrace the challenge and follow through to ensure achievement of that goal?  Will you report to the higher level on what you have done at the end of the year?

National has recently sent out an annual survey regarding strategic planning asking all Presidents to complete.  It is important to complete this survey so we can measure how we do on the plan from year to year.