Academic Association

Academic Association

Visioning Retreat

The leadership of a major national academic association realized that it needed to take a hard look at its annual conference in terms relevance and revenue. It also wanted to consider new revenue sources. The group’s board and management hired Plan A Advisors to facilitate a one-day retreat that aimed to generate consensus around the association’s envisioned future.


The academic association wished to reinvigorate its annual conference to make it more pertinent for younger members, reconsider the role the group plays as a career-services provider, and identify better methods of generating income in a changing landscape for national nonprofit membership organizations.


After a close look at the group’s recent history, Plan A helped retreat participants reach consensus on a draft vision statement for its future. This statement will serve as framework for planning and the decision-making during the next few years. The daylong event also resulted in a framework for a reimagined annual conference, exploring how to attract and retain members, and how to build a fundraising program around the association’s continued value proposition.

Product &

• Guided the group’s directors and senior executives to evaluate the organization in a “SWOT” analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
• Created a “word cloud” of aspirational concepts or phrases to inform a well-defined vision statement.
• Pinpointed six major “drivers” (action areas) that would lead to a set of detailed, tactical plans.
• Identified other items for consideration to boost interest in the group and its annual conference, as well as to improve its fundraising, ranging from “riskier” new programming to the smarter use of technology to connect globally.