Catholic Charities gets strategic

By Michael Thomas
JACKSON – During the last week of January, members of the Catholic Charities board of directors and governance council met at Holy Family Parish to begin the 2018 – 2023 Strategic Plan for Catholic Charites, Inc. In keeping with the mission of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Jackson “…to be a visible sign of Christ’s love…” every five years a strategic planning committee is formed with members of the board, the governance council and Charities staff. This committee evaluates the past plan and develops a new one.
The plan will set forth a five-year set of goals and objectives designed to guide the agency, its board and governance council in actions that will improve outreach to consumers and operations. The theme for the strategic planning process is “Embarking on the next five years – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9”
Bishop Joseph Kopacz began the full-day retreat with a reflection on Catholic Social Teaching. He included a review of the mission, values and principles that guide Charites. Senior staff members then gave an overview of operations along with presentations and updates from each program before the group began a review of the 2012-2017 strategic plan. “Today the council members were renewed in their focus and we are excited about the future of Catholic Charites,” said Cindy Jefcoat, chair of the governance council.
Traditionally, Catholic Charities has utilized a combination of a “SWOT” or strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis, committee meetings and an internal employee survey to determine the goals and objectives in the plan. “This time we are going to add an external stakeholder and donor relationship survey to give us a better understanding of how we are viewed both internally and externally,” said John Lunardini, COO. Adding, “It is very important to hear from our partners, funders, donors and our parishioners on how they view the work of Catholic Charities in the diocese. In early March, we will begin sending out surveys to as many of these stakeholders as possible to gain the valuable feedback we need to strengthen our agency.”
This planning session comes at a particularly vibrant time for Catholic Charities. The addition of a COO working with Bishop Kopacz, who acts as CEO for the agency, along with a move into a new headquarters near downtown Jackson in 2017, have triggered opportunities to strengthen and renew the programs and staff. At the same time, the Diocese of Jackson launched a new mission, vision and set of Pastoral Priorities. The two efforts dovetail in their hope to encourage the faithful to ‘embrace diversity, serve others and inspire disciples,’ as the diocesan vision statement reads.
Catholic Charities is enlisting the help of Maris, West and Baker, a Jackson-based advertising agency, to redevelop the Catholic Charities website and update branding for the entire agency. “By the Bishop’s Ball in June, we expect to have a completed strategic plan and website that will help us increase our visibly in the community so we can have an even greater impact on the people that need our services the most and on the community as a whole,” said Lunardini.
Some of the accomplishments from the last strategic plan were relocating the Domestic Violence Center in Jackson, expansion of the MYPAC program under Hope Haven, implementation of an exit interview process and renewed COA accreditation.
(Michael Thomas is the Development Director for Catholic Charities of Jackson.)