Inspiration Alcona builds cultural opportunities in Alcona County to make the county a destination and home for creative people of all kinds.
Inspiration Alcona believes that the arts are a vital part of community life. IA believes the arts should be accessible to the entire community in all ways, but especially in adapting to the needs of people with handicaps and in reducing or eliminating financial barriers.
Because the county’s population is barely 10,000 people spread across a land area of 675 square miles, and because the median household income is significantly below state and national averages, Alcona County has had a dearth of cultural activities. Inspiration Alcona seeks to bring cultural programs from visual art to performing art to music and art lessons and to culinary projects to make the county a more interesting place to live for local citizens and to encourage visitors.
Goals and Tasks
(See the Strategic Goals Document
below for details.)
1. IA will make the best use of its board members and effectively and consistently seek to diversify its board.
2. Inspiration Alcona will operate with the bes tfinancial practices for an organization of its size.
3. IA will ensure that all programs meet or exceed state and federal grant requirements.
4. IA will broaden its financial base through seeking more donations and grants.
5. IA will increase its profile within the county and state.
6. IA will increase its services within the county and state.
7. IA will build partnerships with other organizations sharing its goals and values.
8. To meet its mission of providing a supportive environment for creative individuals in Alcona County, IA will serve as an incubator for other groups.
Key Performance Indicators
Inspiration Alcona strives to be responsive to its audiences’ wishes and needs. Therefore it considers participant response when deciding whether to host similar projects.
Perhaps the most important indicator is simply attendance; even if those attending are enthusiastic, if few have come it’s unlikely IA is serving its community efficiently.
IA plans each project with the intent to provide a high-quality experience. Attendance and reviews determine whether IA reached that goal.
IA has no staff, and so no formal employment criteria. But IA respects people of all backgrounds, abilities and lifestyles.
When IA hires contract workers for projects, it does so without discrimination.
IA makes accessibility a priority when planning a project.
Strength: IA is an established501(c)3 public charity.
Strength: Other organizations come to IA for support, so IA’s name is being recognized among other volunteer groups.
Strength: IA benefits from an active, involved board that has been willing to spend long hours on its programs.
Strength: IA has been able to design most programs to shift most burdens to the contract workers running them, so that IA’s involvement remains largely set-up and evaluation.
Strength: IA has enough cash on hand in 2020 to run a full year of programming even if it fails to win grants and cannot hold its income-earning programs.
Weakness: IA relies on its president for marketing, website, and general clerical work. Should IA lose that person for any reason, the board would have to find at least 20 hours per week to replace his functions.
Weakness: IA needs to more equitably distribute its workload among its board and volunteer group.
Weakness: IA does not have the money to hire staff, even part-time, without taking money from its programs.
Weakness: IA has no long-term financial growth plan, though that is a current goal.
Weakness: For lack of time, IA does not use current technology to its full advantage.
Opportunity: IA had a marketing analysis done in 2019. While some of the suggestions from that work have already gone into practice, IA has other opportunities to benefit more from the analysis’ results.
Opportunity: IA has relationships with the Alcona Community Schools,the Alcona County Library, the Alcona Area Council on Aging and the Harrisville Arts Council. These could be expanded, and IA could explore partnerships with such other local entities as the state park, DNR, social service, fraternal groups and veterans groups.
Opportunity: Except for its Farm to Fork Alcona committee, IA has generally not tried to raise local funds, on the grounds that only a small portion of the local population has money available to donate. But the committee has had success, so IA is considering looking for local donations.
Threat: IA could be seen by the local population as an elitist group.
Threat: Social distancing restrictions could shut down IA’s entire program set.
Threat: IA’s potential audience is shrinking due to aging and lack of mobility.
Threat: Were IA to expand its programs, it would need to add members to its board and look for more money to pay for the expansion.
IA’s business model relies on bringing in earned income through the annual Alcona Arts Retreat in September, the Lost Lake Writers Retreat in October and the Alcona Small Farm Conference in February. IA uses the receipts of those programs to match grant funds as required. IA then spends the total on programs designed for local citizens.
IA’s cash flow would be damaged if it were unable to hold anyone of the income-earning programs or if it failed to win significant grant money. In 2020 IA has successfully sought MCACA grants for 6 years in a row, but of course that success is only a modest predictor of future success with that grantor. That grant has been in the range of $8,000 to $16,000, the largest single grant in any year.
IA faces no significant risk from the failure of a single local program. None have a large enough investment to hamper the organization overall.
IA expects to earn in gross receipts about $35,000 per year from its two income-earning retreats. Together with perhaps $12,000 per year from MCACA and a similar amount in donations for the small farm conference, IA expects to have about $60,000 to spend in any given year.
Should IA or its F2FAlcona committee secure a large grant, that grant would have to include its own overhead, including any staff needed.