Report on WADU State Strategic Plan
2013 End of Year Report in Green
As is now the custom, Washington Ducks Unlimited crafts a 2-year State Strategic Plan that coincides with the term of each State Chairperson. Mike Hutchins and the State Committee held a meeting in the fall of 2011 and crafted a plan that was reviewed and adopted when Mike became State Chairman in the summer of 2012. Ambitious, yet realistic, the Plan has been in effect for nearly 6 months and real progress has been made in many areas and more success is anticipated.
As a brief refresher…the plan identified 6 objectives or areas of attention along with goals, objectives and action plans for each one of those objectives. Volunteers from throughout the State offered their help in attending to these various areas and have applied their time and effort towards moving the Plan ahead. In condensed form, the 6 objectives for attention are as follows.
1) Volunteers…with the Goal of recruiting, retaining and growing the volunteer ranks. The stated objective is No Net Loss…which has not been the case in the past few years.
2) Communications…with a Goal of developing a 4 year Communications Plan and the Objective of increasing communication transfer between National, Regional, State levels and on down to individual volunteers and members.
3) Training…with a Goal of developing and delivering consistent fundamental training with the Objective of successfully holding and improving event performance.
4) Leadership Development and Succession Planning…with a Goal and Objective of developing a State Organizational chart for Leadership Development and Succession Planning
5) Improvement in Fundraising Measures…with the Goal and Objective of returning WADU to the Level of Recognition of previous years in 8 of the 12 categories in the annual DU Summary Report.
6) Hunting Opportunities, Access and Awareness…with a Goal and Objective of increasing hunting opportunities for all and membership support for hunting/shooting public policy and to increase the numbers of State waterfowl hunters along with their support of DU’s conservation measures.
· Please refer to the complete State Strategic Plan for full explanation of these 6 Objectives…along with the stated Action Plans and Measures
Obviously, it is easy to see how all these Objectives tie into one another, success in one area facilitates success in another. Please forgive if there is some overlap and some re-assignment.
Objective #1 Volunteers
Alternately known as Recruitment, Becky Daharsh originally headed this effort and got the ball rolling. Unfortunately Becky has had to step down due to personal reasons. Before doing so, Becky was pulling her committee together with Mike Nilsen, Patsy Welton and Vicki Knox all offering to help and there are some potential candidates on the East side of the State. Mike Hutchins seeks a replacement for Becky with this key Objective. Additionally, Becky has developed event recruitment forms and a process for utilizing those forms. They (and the process for utilizing them) will be vetted, printed and disseminated to Chapters.
In May, Vicki Knox accepted the position of Volunteer (Recruitment) Chair. Vicki plans a June 21st meeting at the State Convention to review Becky’s past efforts and goals and to develop a plan for going forward.
Joanne Keller has agreed to become the WA DU State Youth Coordinator Chair (May ’13) and will continue as the Chair for NW WA Ladies and GW activities. Joanne’s early efforts showed results with several new GW memberships and with over 175 youth visits at the DU Booth at Cabela’s. Local committees are identified with these visits and tracking will be conducted for results. Traditional forms of GW recruitment continue with over a dozen new names added to the WA Legacy GW program.
Both Joanne and Vicki (as should we all) anticipate more work in these types of special event and activity contacts and, to that end, plan to encourage greater volunteer participation and to employ more and improved “trade show style” DU WA display boards.
Several other action plans are suggested in the State Strategic Plan…such as encouraging Area Chairs to appoint a member of their committees to address recruitment and reengaging past volunteers. Lists of current and former volunteers have been developed and are available to Chapters that wish to engage inactive volunteers. A number of Chapters are discussing or planning alternate events that focus mainly on recruitment of volunteers and replenishment of committees.
Early signs point to a successful launch of these efforts with a 21% increase in volunteer strength for NW WA, as an example. Additionally, several vacant Area Chair positions have been filled as well as State Leadership positions. Welcome Rich Hilliker, District Chairman for the Mt. Rainier District and David Foos, District Chair for the Snohomish District. Additionally, George Doty has accepted a new designation…that of District Chair Emeritus…to go with his current job of State Treasurer. This position is established to recognize George’s long volunteer service on the District level, to encourage his continued participation at that level but to free him from the day to day responsibility so he can concentrate on his Treasurer duties.
Objective #2 Communications
Perhaps the area of greatest activity!
Chairman Mike Hutchins assiduously adheres to his schedule of conference calls, telephone calls and emails. The bi-monthly conference call between the State Chair, State Committee, District Chairs, Zone Chairs and the Regional Directors continues. In the off-months the State Chair emails or calls the DCs for updates. Additionally, WADU leadership can “listen and learn” by eavesdropping on the monthly WRO conference call between field staff, conservation, development, and selected volunteers throughout the WRO. This opportunity, championed by our Regional VP Chris Dorow and Senior Flyway VP Alan Hopp, has been a great opportunity to access information on a more “real time” basis. Much of what is discussed on this call is captured in the WRO Conservation Report, sent to the WR State Chairs and, in turn, forwarded by the State Chairs to their volunteers. For now, the WRO Conservation Report and Mike Hutchin’s summary of the State conference call serve as the WADU newsletter.
The Monthly Region 1 conference calls continue and WA DU leadership is, again, encouraged to “listen in” on these calls. There is a wealth of information exchanged between our RDs, regional staff and our biologists. As an example, during the discussion of a particular project, it was noted that the landowner had not received an invitation to the upcoming DU event for that area. This was quickly remedied by those listening to the call.
In the course of this past year, several DU “e-mail blasts” were sent to volunteers and leadership regarding public policy issues. The information contained in those blasts was of great value to our members and our response was instrumental in helping shape public policy. The most recent ”blast” concerning the 2013 Farm Bill was utilized just in the weeks leading up to the State Convention…if you haven’t contacted your representatives…please take a moment.
The wizard of cyberspace and Webmaster, Jimmie Brown, reports that the State website is up to date and being maintained by Jimmie and the RDs. However, the updates can only be posted if we update Jimmie and in a timely manner. The State Roster/State Directory has been updated on the website (also available in print from DCs) and Jimmie would like to provide pictures to go with the State Leadership volunteers and he asks that you send something along.
Additionally, Jimmie reports that the “Ducks Unlimited Washington” Facebook page is up and running…thanks to the efforts of new Tacoma Committee member Lisa Carlson. He suggests that you start posting if you haven’t already. If you don’t Facebook you can check it out by visiting http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ducks-Unlimited-Washington/281791038599672
In light of all Jimmie’s good work this past year with the WA DU Cyber World, the State Convention organizers decided to rely more heavily on the State website, emails and social media to deliver information and registrations to our membership for the Silverdale event. The organizers utilized at least three “email blasts” to inform membership of dates for the event and registration opportunity on the State website. Early response indicates that this strategy may not have been sufficient and, coupled with delays in traditional mailed invitations, could have been insufficient…negatively affected this year’s attendance. Results will be closely scrutinized and factored into all future planning.
Nearly all Measures for Communications stated in the complete State Strategic Plan have been met. Regional and District Meetings will be covered in the next section…though they have much to do with communications.
In some regards, at year’s end, we find ourselves close to where we started the year…at least in our standard forms of communications. While training sessions for district and regional volunteers have been met or exceeded, the State Chair reports that participation in the bi-monthly conference call is lower than hoped and that email communications are not always getting forwarded as requested. These two forms of communication, at this time, seem to be the most efficient and least onerous ways of communicating between all of us…why it is not better utilized is baffling…an hour or so every two months. WA DU leadership is encouraged to please participate in the calls…the hope is that you will grow to embrace the system and ultimately, this will strengthen your zones, districts and volunteers.
Objective #3 Training
QUICK TIPS: One area chapter has saved itself over $100 in postage by culling their invitation lists of lost attendees and faulty addresses. All chapters, if they have not already done so, might give this a try. Also, chapters and volunteers are encouraged to take advantage of the many and varied brochures available to them from National and available through your RDs.
“Develop and deliver consistent fundamental training for DU volunteers” says it all…the Statement of Goal from the Strategic Plan.
Most likely, this report is being released at the 2nd of 3 Regional training meetings and there are plans to provide further training at this year’s State Convention in Silverdale. In addition, the State Strategic Plan can serve as a valuable tool and The Washington State Ducks Unlimited Treasurer’s Handbook and Guide has been updated and disseminated.
Indeed, Gambling/Raffle training continues with updates and sessions planned for the State Convention and into the future. In fiscal year 2013 (ending June 30th) WA DU staff and advisors have developed and submitted a five year training protocol to address sustainment (compliance) as required by the Gambling Commission. A WA DU Compliance Booklet has been available in paper form and on our website…it is now, also, available in CD format available at this State Convention. Other avenues for addressing our issues with raffle compliance continue to be examined and pursued…including legislative action.
Last spring a survey was conducted to identify the highest priorities for volunteer training…in the opinion of volunteers. Painstakingly compiled, the surveys reveal 5 areas of greatest concern.
-Recruitment…covered in Objective #1
-Compliance with Washington State Gambling Commission rules…to this end, John
Tierney has created the WADU Raffle Operations Handbook and further training
-Solicit donations and underwriting
-Increase event ticket sales and attendance
-Recognize and retain volunteers
Jimmie Brown and Bill Winchell, who helped design the survey and compile the results, suggests that we continue our efforts to document existing training manuals and tools or create them ourselves, if necessary. They also recommend, in addition to our usual training methods, that we develop more “immediate” delivery methods when between training sessions.
Note that the last three items need attention…if tools exist they should be identified and if not…developed and distributed.
The RDs are now equipped with LCD projectors and at least one RD is equipped with a dedicated laptop computer with the projector. Beyond the projector’s use in training, chapters should take advantage of this technology to spice up their events with A/V displays.
Training continues at this year’s State Convention. Presenting at this year’s State Convention is Walter Brooks. Walter is the guy behind DU National’s “Volunteer Gear” website. Walter will be conducting training sessions and explication of the site.
National’s expectations for this site is very high,
Objective #4 Leadership Development and Succession Planning
The State Organizational Plan has been developed and circulated by the State Chair. Equally, the new State Roster is available and nearly all current and new positions have been filled. Welcome to new District Chairs Brian Swanson, Mike Luecht and Jon Berry and new or returning Zone Chairs Scott Knox, Chad Dubis and Bruce Macdonald. Also, congratulations to Mike Nilsen who has accepted the position of Assistant State Chairman.
Mike Nilsen was asked and accepted the position of State Chair Elect a little earlier than usual so that he could take advantage of that position and utilize the learning curve at the National Convention in Portland. New District Chairs have already been identified (Objective #1 Volunteers) and that several vacant Area Chair positions filled. However, several Zone Chair positions remain unfilled and volunteers are encouraged to consider offering their experience for the cause.
Joanne Keller has accepted the position of NW Washington Women’s and Green Wing Chair. Joanne is working with a local sporting goods store, a local teacher, The Brant Foundation and Ben & Patsy Welton. This intrepid group already has two GW events under their belts and they are planning for spring and summer events, as well. Women’s events are next on their list.
Succession planning is always one of the hardest nuts in the DU volunteer ranks. However, it is critical to the health and growth of our membership. It is never too early to think of and court those who can follow in our footsteps…it gives others a chance for new challenges and frees us to work where we are needed next.
Objective #5 Improve our Fundraising Measures
Attention and success with the first 4 objectives will pay big dividends for us in this area. Washington has flattened out in many of the metrics that DU uses to measure State achievement and WADU, in their State Strategic Plan, pledges to grow the State fundraising numbers. By the year 2016 we expect 20% growth in our Net/Net Event Income (5% per year), 13% increase in Bronze Sponsors, four qualifying Ladies Events and 25 new qualifying Second or Miscellaneous Events. WADU also has every expectation of meeting and/or exceeding our Major Donors for the next 4 years.
21% growth in volunteer strength has already been cited. Add to that several re-starts with chapters, new events, reports of several full halls and continued emphasis on event efficiency and these metrics should continue to improve.
Maintaining our raffle income is critical to our growth in all these areas and, to this end, RD’s are now responsible for insuring gambling commission compliance and maintaining raffling records. However, they can’t do it alone and Zone and District Chairs are encouraged to help with this effort. Raffle compliance has rather discouraged some of State leadership…but, now is the time to step up…things will get easier as we progress through this process.
Objective #6 Hunting Opportunities, Access and Awareness
While a laudatory ambition…this objective is somewhat out of our hands. A case can be made that there is a correlation between our 5 other objectives and the growth of hunting opportunity, access and awareness…however, it is very nearly impossible to track. Much of what needs to be done is on a public relations and political level and that puts it into the hands of DU professionals and our politicians. This does not mean that our voices are not heard. It is proposed and we should follow through with a State specific policy and action plan that actively promotes hunting opportunities and access for all. Additionally, WADU members should energetically promote/communicate their and our views to local and state representatives.
The State Convention business sessions will address this objective through the prevailing theme of “Working together for Conservation” and the featured presenting partners. This is exemplified in not only the increased waterfowl production described by our biologists and integral to our mission …but, in the growing awareness and support for such programs as WDFW’s Waterfowl Quality Hunt Program.
As the gambling issues settle out, we should be able to devote more time and effort to this objective and to the traditional work that we are most interested in and suited to.