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Looking Toward the Future

This week, RCA approved the outline of our Strategic Plan. Read on to find out our goals and objectives for the coming years.

It's been a busy month for RCA!  I've already told you about our activities regarding the , as well as our honoring our . And you may have read about Reston 2020's testimony to Reston's Planning and Zoning Committee on the proposed . With everything that's going on, it would be very easy for us to get caught up in the moment, and only think about the things that are on our plate right now.

But at this month's Board meeting, I'm happy to say, we took some time to plan for RCA's future. I've told you that one of my goals was to develop a Strategic Plan for RCA, like . At Monday's meeting, the RCA Board approved in concept a plan that will shape the course of our organization for the next three years. Having a strategic plan will help our Board, our volunteers, and our citizens understand exactly what RCA will do in the coming years to improve life in the community.

To that end, I'd like to share with you the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan. This week, I'm going to focus on our first four areas of focus (alphabetically speaking); next week, I'll talk about the final three.

Communications

Strategic Goal: To be the voice and ear of Reston citizens on political and social issues that affect the community.

Objectives:

1. Develop avenues for two-way communication with Reston citizens.

2. Make Restonians aware of RCA, its purpose, areas of interest, and achievements.

3. Enhance Reston's sense of itself as a community.

4. Inform our citizens how they can help RCA to achieve Reston's goals.

Our strategic plan stresses "two-way" communication for a reason. A community organization can't hope to speak for the citizens if it only speaks to them. We need to listen as well, and find out what's important to the citizens, what issues are affecting you the most, and how we can help you.

One communication opportunity we have currently is this blog. (And thanks to the comments section, it does allow two-way conversations.) We also have our website, and the Reston 2020 blog. We're planning to enhance these venues, and also seek out new channels to reach the citizens.  For instance, we should be on Facebook and Twitter, and perhaps other emerging social media.  And our series will aim to inform Restonians on important issues, but also to hear your thoughts on those issues.

One of the things we hope to emphasize in our conversations with Reston citizens is what a special place Reston is, and the role RCA has played in making it that way. Newer residents especially may not be aware of Reston's history, the New Town spirit that led the pioneer generation of Restonians to come here and build a community together, the founding principles that guide us to this day.  We want to make them aware of what it means to be a Restonian, and why it's important to help keep our community going.

We have several ideas for enhancing Reston's sense of community.  A big one is our .  What better way to show our community spirit, both within Reston and all over the commonwealth, than to put it on the road?  My occasional "RCA History" posts on this blog also aim to inform people about both RCA's and Reston's past.  We're also working on new ideas to strengthen our sense of place and our community pride.  Stay tuned for more on those.

Community Works

Strategic Goal: To perform concrete, community-positive works that improve the lives of Reston citizens.

Objective: Expand RCA's capacity to perform community works.

The model for what we have in mind for community works is the , which has done so much in the last several years to make Reston more accessible for people with disabilities.  Ken Fredgren's committee is a fine example of what a small group of committed volunteers can do to improve life in the community.

We'd like to help make that a , so that RAC can accomplish even more.  We'd also like to identify other areas where we can provide concrete benefits to the community, and either create RCA committees to address them, or develop partnerships with other Reston organizations to serve those needs.  There are a lot of groups doing good community works in Reston, and together, we can make Reston an even better place to live.

Events and Traditions

Strategic Goal: To create lasting traditions that celebrate Reston and its citizens.

Objective: Develop and operate signature, community-positive RCA events.

The Citizen of the Year ceremony is a tremendously uplifting event, both for RCA and for Reston.  We love to shine the spotlight on volunteers who are doing their part to strengthen the social fabric of Reston, and over the years we have brought a measure of well-deserved fame to a lot of good people.

In the years ahead, RCA plans to develop the Citizen of the Year ceremony further, and make it into a signature annual event in Reston.  We'd like to develop other events that foster Reston's sense of community, a goal I mentioned above.  The community forums are one such event.  We're formulating ideas for several others; as we develop them, I'll be sure to share our plans with you here.

Financial

Strategic Goal: To remain a financially stable, fiscally responsible, and independent organization.

Objectives:

1. Develop a variety of revenue sources that can be tapped on a regular or occasional basis.

2. Formalize RCA's budgeting and develop a clear understanding of our financial needs.

The greatest strength of RCA is, and will always be, the tireless and dedicated service of our volunteers, on the Board and outside it.  That spirit and devotion to service drives everything we do.  But having a bit more money will help us do everything better.  This may not be the most exciting strategic area, but it's an important one.

RCA is assembling a Fundraising Committee to explore multiple options for raising revenue.  We haven't specifically ruled out getting Jerry Lewis to host a telethon for us, but we're also kicking around some other concepts.

The flip side of the fundraising coin is budgeting.  If we're going to ask people to give us money, they ought to know what we plan to spend it on.  Much as I might enjoy spending our funds on some nice crema , we have more important needs as an organization.  We're going to develop our financial priorities, and prepare annual budgets, so that the citizens know where their money is going.

In next week's post, I'm going to discuss our last three strategic areas: Issue Advocacy, Outreach, and Volunteering.  If you have any thoughts or ideas about RCA's Strategic Plan, feel free to continue our conversation in the comments.  I look forward to sharing our plans for guiding RCA forward to many more years of service to Reston.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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