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YMCA of Central Ohio

A strategic plan is powerful. It helps an organization decide what (and what not) to pursue; it provides common goals and shared language; and it empowers teams to direct their time and plan day-to-day activities effectively. The process of creating the plan is equally important: when done well, it unifies and provides a clear forward direction.

About YMCA of Central Ohio
  • The YMCA of Central Ohio serves over 150,000 individuals each year.
  • The organization’s footprint consists of 13 Health and Wellness Centers spanning four Central Ohio counties, 58 before- and after-school sites, one New American Welcome Center, one Overnight Camp, one Homeless Shelter, and four Community Housing Sites.
  • Among many other accolades, YMCAs are the leading provider of childcare: locally, statewide, and nationally.

For YMCA of Central Ohio—an organization known for its nimbleness in responding to the ever-changing needs of the Central Ohio region—its recent strategic planning process presented additional opportunities. The organization’s leaders wanted to strike a balance between maximizing impact and ensuring financial stability. The plan needed to act as the North Star for the organization’s diverse services, while still allowing the flexibility to respond to the community’s specific needs. And—above all—they were committed to creating a plan that would not “sit on the shelf,” but rather be useful, useable, and used.

To achieve these aims, YMCA of Central Ohio partnered with Benefactor Group to facilitate the process and provide counsel. The result: a strong strategic plan and a lot learned along the way.

Impact of our Partnership

The process provided clear discipline and organization-wide buy-in.


What Benefactor Group brought to the process was a real discipline. To narrow down our priorities, then set specific goals, then add quantifiable measures…that took a lot of reflection, conversation, and iteration. Without Benefactor Group, there might have been a temptation to stop short of winnowing down our priorities to a manageable number or defining specific, measurable goals. Their partnership helped give clarity and discipline to our priorities.”

Organization-wide buy-in and collaboration.

Every strategic plan should have measures of success. These are the metrics you pay attention to while implementing your plan to gauge whether you are moving towards your goals. They also provide an objective picture of what success looks like in each area.

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Additional Reflections from the Project

  • A collaborative process creates a common purpose and ensures the plan will succeed. Planning with YMCA board and staff members created shared ownership and accountability. As YMCA team members discussed big ideas, made difficult decisions, and built consensus, they better understood what was expected of them and each other—creating a solid foundation for implementation. (And as an ancillary benefit, a collaborative process creates fertile ground for a culture of philanthropy to grow, as all YMCA team members became equipped to speak about where the organization is heading—and how that will enhance the future of the Central Ohio region).
  • Spread the word! Your plan should be shared with all—so it can guide day-to-day work and decisions. YMCA of Central Ohio took this seriously, understanding that the first step to implementing a strategic plan is to ensure it is shared with all who will have a role to play in realizing it—in other words, the whole team! Beginning with an all-staff rally, where the strategic plan was rolled out to over 300 employees, along with a pocket-sized handout for easy reference, YMCA of Central Ohio worked to create a plan that was available to everyone. Today, the organization continues to follow a rigorous process for implementation: building systems and dashboards for measuring progress, and using regular check-ins to hold one another accountable.
  • Implementing a strategic plan with this level of rigor is a thoughtful process—and one that involves cultural changes—but the investment of time is worth it. Wrestling with data, setting benchmarks and goals, and building dashboards that allow for easy reference and measurement: these are not tasks that are completed overnight! YMCA of Central Ohio has approached this as an iterative process: tackling the components, one by one, and learning and refining as the team moves forward. Because, as Brandi shared, the outcomes will be worth it:

A collaborative process creates a com learning and refining as the team moves forward. Because, as Brandi shared, the outcomes will be worth it:

Interested in learning more about strategic planning? Visit our strategic planning page or reach out below to discuss!

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