Dear Kalamazoo Area Runners Members and Friends,
Over the last three months the Kalamazoo Area Runners Executive Board has been working hard behind the scenes to define our future as an organization. In August, we completed the strategic planning process and the purpose of this communication is to share the outcomes, as well as how your valuable insights supported those outcomes.
Membership Survey Results
In July a survey was sent to the Kalamazoo Area Runners (KAR) membership as part of our strategic planning process. More than 100 members provided valuable feedback which was incorporated into the three strategic planning discussions conducted by Consultant Tim Fallon and the Executive Board in August. Through the survey, we learned the membership was highly supportive of the following organizational priorities with more than 90% of respondents either in agreement or strong agreement:
- Kalamazoo Area Runners’ primary purpose should balance serving the members, the running community and greater community through the sport of running.
- Kalamazoo Area Runners should be a leader in organizing or co-organizing quality training programs serving runners of all abilities and distances.
- Free group runs on the road, track and trails are important to Kalamazoo Area Runners.
In addition, members were asked to evaluate the level of importance of KAR membership benefits, events and programs. Although the membership was not in strong agreement that race discounts should be our primary focus, this ranked first in importance out of the twenty-two (22) membership benefits, events and programs offered by KAR. The top five were rounded out by the Beyond Half and Full Marathon Training Program in Kalamazoo (2nd), the Kalamazoo Klassic (3rd), free midweek group runs (4th) and the ability to connect with other runners through KAR Social Media Platforms (Strava, Facebook, Instagram) (5th).
Your survey results provided important insights as we began the strategic planning process.
Partnership Survey Results
In addition to surveying our members, we surveyed partners who were key stakeholders in our organization. Out of 14 responses, more than 85% responded that they agreed or strongly agreed that 1) Partnering with KAR has mutually beneficial results and 2) Partnering with KAR adds value to their organization.
Community collaboration is an important part of Kalamazoo Area Runner’s culture, and our partners are essential to our sustainability and success as an organization. Including their perspective validates the value our organization offers to them. Their involvement, in turn, adds value to our membership.
Kalamazoo Area Runners (KAR) Mission, Vision and Values
One of our primary goals during the session was to establish a vision for our organization. Keeping in mind the organizational priorities above, as well as a perception that has existed for decades that KAR is for competitive runners, we sought a vision statement that was simple, friendly and represented our most sincere and authentic aspirations for our organization. Thus, the vision statement developed for our organization is simply:
Kalamazoo Area Runners welcomes runners of all abilities
In addition to developing a vision statement, we reviewed our mission statement, which we decided to keep unchanged:
Promote a healthy lifestyle through the sport of running while enhancing the quality of life in the community.
Finally, we reviewed our core values and made several modifications. Through the survey, we validated that the membership was in strong agreement with most of our values, with the exception of Innovation. As a result, we replaced Innovation with Adaptability and simplified several of our existing values, which now read:
We value and honor each individual touching our organization for their unique abilities, contributions and achievements, and strive to treat each person with the utmost dignity and respect.
We uphold honesty and high ethical standards in our relationship with our members, participants and community partners.
We are dedicated to developing volunteer leadership within our organization and the community.
We embrace all differences and understand diversity helps build a welcoming and strong organization.
We recognize the importance of community collaboration, and work together with other organizations to not only foster wellness through the sport of running, but enhance the overall quality of life in our community.
We work together to achieve our goals and celebrate the successes of our members and all those we impact.
We respond to emerging trends in running and the evolving needs of members.
We are committed to offering exceptional value and connecting our community through offering quality events and programs at low cost.
Strategic Map – Our Central Challenge and Strategic Priorities
Through the strategic planning process, the primary deliverable to guide our organization over the next three years was the development of a Strategic Map. This involved defining our central challenge as an organization, as well as our strategic priorities.
Kalamazoo Area Runners’ central challenge is to Increase Member Value and Ensure KAR Sustainability.
In order to address our central challenge, we identified four strategic priorities for the next three years:
- Optimize Events, Programs and Services
- Deepen Member Engagement
- Expand Awareness of KAR
- Strengthen Organizational Effectiveness and Sustainability.
We then identified two strategic priorities to focus on over the next 6 – 12 months:
- Strengthen Organization Effectiveness and Sustainability
- Deepen Member Engagement (with a focus on free group runs and partners to support them).
Two board subcommittees were appointed to begin work on the two strategic priorities above, and will be meeting over the coming months to develop project plans. Volunteer leadership is essential to addressing our central challenge and strategic priorities, and we will be reaching out to the membership over the coming months in an effort to grow and develop leaders within our organization. With your help, we can ensure KAR continues to deliver exceptional value to our membership and is sustainable well into the future.
Thank you for the privilege of serving on behalf of Kalamazoo Area Runners and for your valuable feedback as we work together to ensure our organization is successful in carrying out our mission, and realizing our vision.
As always, please feel free to contact any of the board members below if you have questions.
The Kalamazoo Area Runners Executive Board
Bonnie Sexton, President
Natalie Rowe, Vice President
Kirstin Simons, Treasurer
Kristen Mansfield, Secretary
Board Members at Large
Joseph Hohler III