Strategic Framework 2020 - 2025


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.

The Cause

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.

Human Relations

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.

SWOT Analysis

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.

Risk Analysis

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.

Financial Outlook

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.

Strategic Goals 2020 - 2025

1. IA will make the best use of its board members and effectively and consistently seek to diversify its                 board.                                                 
        i. Create a dashboard for evaluating Inspiration Alcona’s programs,operations, growth, stability and adherence to the mission.                  2020                                              
        ii. Create a standing committee of the board to review and revise Board capacity and responsibilities annually and to recruit                 new members. 2020                                            
        iii. Create a strategy for ensuring diversity in Board membership. 2021                                             
        iv. Create two liaison officers to serve with the Farm to Fork Alcona committee. 2020 

2. Inspiration Alcona will operate with the best financial practices for an organization of its size.                                                
        i. Conduct annual financial statements and compilations. 2020                                               
        ii. Seek professional reviews every 5 years. 2022                                            
        iii. Seek the services of a professional CPA who will do compilations, reviews and audits, perhaps in exchange for a board seat.                 2024 

3. IA will ensure that all programs meet or exceed state and federal grant requirements.                                                
        i. Each grant writer shall check before applying that IA can meet all requirements. Ongoing                                              
        ii. Each project manager shall submit a final report, using the Protocol Board Policy format.                 Ongoing                                            
        iii.     The treasurer will monitor programs for financial compliance. Ongoing                                             
        iv.     The vice president will monitor programs for legal and board policy compliance. Ongoing 

4. IA will broaden its financial base through seeking more donations and grants.                                                 
        i. Establish a standing committee of the board to design a formal fundraising plan, to bepresented to the whole board for                 approval. 2021                                              
        ii. Revisit the plan annually and revise as needed to meet changing financial goals. 2022                                            
        iii. Seek local, state, federal, corporate and foundation grants. Ongoing                                             
        iv. As board capacity allows, seek ways to hold more income-earning events. 2021                                               
        v. Establish an Endowment Fund and set a goal to increase that fund by a minimum of five percent annually.  2021 

5. IA will increase its profile within the county and state.                                                
        i. Establish a standing committee of the board to create a marketing and public relations plan, including a media                 kit. 2020                                              
        ii. Pursue new marketing methods, including social media, branding, development of a slogan, as board capacity allows and                 as new methods arise. 2021                                            
        iii. Maintain a website that includes a link for written requests for information legally accessible to the general                 public. 2020                                             
        iv. Maintain program information for both past and future events on the website. 2020                                               
        v. Create an annual report available on the website. 2020                                             
        vi. Increase local visibility by having board members personally present the vision to community                 organizations. 2021                                          
        vii. Engage in county-wide marketing by partnering with other similar and like-minded nonprofits.                 2020                                        
        viii. Ask instructors to host local art shows or readings, perhaps at the Alcona Library or Besser Museum, to promote the arts                 retreat and writers retreat. 2022 

6. IA will increase its services within the county and state.                                                 
        i. Consider new programs, keeping in mind the Board Policy New Programs document. 2021                                             
        ii. Use the website and Facebook to seek outside ideas for children. 2020                                           
        iii. Host another juried art show, with fees and well-known jurors.  2022                                             
        iv. Look for programs specifically for armed services veterans. 2021                                               
        v. Look for programs specifically for young families. 2021                                             
        vi. Make 2021 a celebration of IA’s 10th year in service.                                          
        vii. Develop a Music for Adults program. 2021                                        
        viii. Develop a strategy, including financing, for an artist in residence program. 2023                                             
        ix. Develop a strategy to grow Alcona GospelFest. 2021 

7. IA will build partnerships with other organizations sharing its goals and values.                                                 
        i. Consult each summer with the library and the schools to plan programs for the next year or school year.                 Ongoing                                              
        ii. Contact nearby cultural groups, including art councils, art guilds, writers groups, dance groups, theater groups, culinary                 groups, etc., to share ideas and brainstorm. Ongoing                                            
        iii. Develop a plan, including financing, to provide scholarships to high school students going into the arts. 2023 

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.                                                  
        i. Determine IA’s capabilities and limitations as an organization to decide what events IA could present and over what time                 period. 2021                                              
        ii. Promote the Farm to Table movement through the IA committee Farm to Fork Alcona. (See this committee’s own strategic                 plan.) 2020                                            
        iii. Continue to attract young farmers,restaurateurs, breweries, and other related businesses as well as artists,writers and                 other creative people.   

Longer-term goals 

When board capacity allows, establish an annual fundraiser event.

Before the first non-contract employee is hired, develop a personnel policy and review it annually.

When the budget reaches $250,000, develop a job description, hire an executive director and review his/her performance annually.

When the budget reaches $500,000, have annual audits done.

Research and contact other similar organizations to view their organizational format and how they grew from their inception.

Assemble a catalog of programs being offered by similar organizations. Examine what resources would be required to present such                 programming. 

Seek capacity building grants for backbone support, such as board or staff or professional services recruitment, strategic plan and                 standard operating procedure development; software system purchases, funding plan development, media kit                 development, and partnering with the grantors to really help us grow. 

 Created 6/9/2020