School’s Out, But Our Learning Continues

Right about the time we were celebrating CORRAL’s newest graduates, we — the organization’s leadership — turned to important introspection. In May we partnered with local consultants to help us identify what CORRAL does well and where there’s room for improvement. Through conversations with stakeholders, focus groups and a survey that included 245 participants, the consultants identified our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Consultants’ report arrives
We received the survey results in June. It would have been easy for us to stop at the parts where the consultants wrote that CORRAL is succeeding in its mission to help teenage girls overcome the impact of abuse, neglect or trauma, and that our reputation is strong, our brand sophisticated and consistent, our staff dedicated, and our website attractive. Frankly though, we hired the consultants to ready CORRAL’s board and staff for strategic planning and growth, and we needed honest feedback to do so.

Here’s what we learned

  • Awareness Building

We’ve got work to do in awareness building overall — from what CORRAL does, to who our leadership is and what our finances look like. While CORRAL is perceived as a healthy organization, survey participants think the community is generally unaware of who we are and what we do.

  • Board Leadership

While our community feels confident about our board’s decisions, they don’t feel they know our board members. They see opportunities to position the board as an important part of CORRAL. These include more interaction between the board and stakeholder groups, information provided about the board through different communication avenues, and a clearer definition of board members’ roles.

  • Staff

Our director Joy Currey is viewed as an important reason for CORRAL’s successes, and as having positioned the organization as a community asset. However, survey participants felt that because partners, staff and volunteers are now involved in the organization, there may be an opportunity for others to lead. Participants also see a need for succession planning. They are also concerned about turnover, that staff may be spread too thin, and that there is a need for greater investment in staff.

  • Resource Development

Our fundraising is seen as compelling and critical; participants also believe that donors feel valued and understand how their money is spent. While CORRAL is fortunate to have the number of donors it has, donor retention is seen as an opportunity for greater board involvement. Participants also believe CORRAL should consider diversifying its revenue stream.

  • Communication

Every stakeholder group — parents, volunteers, staff, board members — said we need to improve communications. Parents asked to hear from us more often. Volunteers wish for more timely communication. Staff wants improved internal communications. And many saw an opportunity to improve external communications, thus this blog post, which is the first of regular future posts.

  • Expansion

While most participants supported the idea of eventual expansion, the message was clear: use caution and go slowly. Participants shared that CORRAL has work to do to fine tune our current program before attempting to offer it to more girls or different populations.

Here’s where we go now
With our community’s support, we  — our girls, staff, donors, volunteers — have done so much in such a short period of time. We are grateful to those who took the time to identify what we do well, where we need to improve and threats that may impede our progress. We are excited to continue to impact lives. We’ll take what we learned in the consultants’ report and use it to plan our future.

We invite you to be a part of that planning. We encourage you to read the complete report, and once you’ve done so, let us know what you think.

We’re also interested in hearing your thoughts about this post and what you’d like to read in future posts.

Here’s to our girls and our future!

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The CORRAL Riding Academy is a non-profit group operating out of Cary, North Carolina dedicated to bettering the lives of troubled teens and rescued horses.

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