Suburban Community Center

Suburban Community Center

Scaling Plan

A suburban community center acquired an adjacent building to grow its operations from 17,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet adding a full-service gym, two swimming pools, and other new and expanded facilities to serve a sizable projected increase in membership and usage. With construction underway, the board commissioned a detailed Operating Plan to prepare the agency and its leadership for exponential growth.


The agency had long functioned as a “mom and pop” nonprofit with a small and long-serving full-time staff, and a board of community members with little experience fundraising for and governing an institution of much larger scale. The cost to operate the expanded center and the staffing, programing, marketing and vendor requirements were heretofore only understood in broad terms.


Plan A Advisors led a 10-month process to develop a detailed Operating Plan that allowed the board and staff to fully understand the staffing, operating, financial and governance implications of the expanded community center and to make appropriate plans to manage its opening and support its operational needs so that it could enjoy a successful first year by building a strong membership base and a positive reputation in the community it wished to serve more extensively.

Product &

• Engaged a Visioning Committee, formed with two dozen board and community representatives and divided into five subject-specific task force groups who were responsible for honing the major questions that the Plan needed to answer, undertaking original research (directed by Plan A), and formulating recommendations that would be incorporated into the Operating Plan
• Directed research by task force members to glean best practices from community centers of similar size and serving similar populations around the country
• Constructed a detailed annual operating budget (300% increase) tied to a detailed organizational chart that spread projected expenses across a timeline that reflected…
• Gathered bids from numerous vendors to verify projected expenses and to provide contacts for needed services (e.g. HVAC maintenance, pool maintenance, custodial services, etc.)
• Issued an Operating Plan that included recommendations on every aspect of the center’s forthcoming operations with chapters on organizational philosophy, daily operations, communications, governance, financial management, member relations, community relations, programming, and fundraising. Created a “backwards timeline” that gave each responsible party a set of actions needed monthly leading to the new facility’s opening