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Strategic Plan

Envisioning our future: Introducing ADEC's Strategic Plan

June 18, 2014

Dear valued ADEC member:

The Board of Directors, working on behalf of the membership, has spent much of the past year on the development of a strategic plan for the Association for Death Education and Counseling. The purpose of a strategic plan is to articulate a vision and direction for an organization, as well as to guide decisions about the allocation of resources. This is the first in a series of communications that will illustrate the strategic plan. 


In October 2012, the ADEC Board of Directors approved a plan to develop and implement a new strategic plan for the association. The Board approached Gene Knott, a past president of ADEC who currently works as a facilitator of strategic planning, to ask him to guide ADEC through the process. He agreed and generously waived his usual fee for such work. Dr. Knott’s method involves a contemporary approach toward strategic planning, known as "Appreciative Inquiry." This approach, based on positive psychology, emphasizes problem-solving via an analysis of an organization’s strengths, positive accomplishments and visions of opportunities in the future that build on these strengths and accomplishments.

Following several months of preparation and an environmental review of ADEC, Dr. Knott, the ADEC Board of Directors, and a number of other invited members gathered in Rosemont, IL, USA in October 2013. The themes around which this group worked were two-fold: Finding New Strengths and Envisioning a More Inclusive Future. Over the course of two days of discussions and group work, five key strategic goals were identified: Identity of ADEC, Conference, Governance, Visibility and Business Development. A sixth goal, related to Advancement of Professionals in the Field, emerged out of Board discussions and was added later.

In the months following the Strategic Planning Retreat, six volunteer committees and task forces fleshed out detailed strategies and tasks related to each goal. This summary is meant to introduce you to the broader components of the Strategic Plan. In the coming weeks and months, you will learn more about each Strategic Goal in greater detail.

The Goals and Strategies of the Strategic Plan

Each of the six Strategic Goals has supporting strategies, as outlined below. In cases where implementation of these goals requires an amendment of the bylaws, the membership will vote on the proposals.

1. Identity of ADEC

a. Key Goal: To maintain the focus of dying, death and grief, as well as broaden the nature of the organization to better incorporate non-death losses and to expand global engagement

i. Redefine ADEC’s mission and vision statements
ii. Ensure that the name of the organization accurately reflects its mission and vision (Any potential change in the name of the organization would require a vote of the membership.)
iii. Reach out and make connections to others around the world who are engaged in this field
iv. Identify and reach out to those who are considered to be experts in the fields of the new extended interest and focus of the organization
v. Assess the efficiency and productivity of the identity of the organization

2. Conference

a. Key Goal: To attain a zero-balance conference (budget to at least break even) in 3 years while maintaining the quality of presentations and the current level of camaraderie

i. Increase non-registration revenue
ii. Increase conference registration revenue
iii. Reduce conference costs  

3. Governance

a. Key Goal: To increase the efficiency and productivity of the governance and management of ADEC within three years

i. Restructure the Board (will require a vote of the membership)
ii. Align committee structure with the functioning of the restructured Board
iii. Assess the efficiency and productivity of new governance and management plan

4. Visibility

a. Key Goal: To position ADEC as the leader in our field through increased public and professional visibility over the next three years

i. Increase ADEC’s presence in print and online media
ii. Increase engagement in and sharing of ADEC’s social media content by thanatology professionals
iii. Drive website traffic
iv. Equip members with materials to promote ADEC and recruit new members
v. Expand affiliate relationships between ADEC and thanatology-related groups outside the U.S.

5. Business Development

a. Key Goal: To create a business-savvy culture within ADEC, establishing a reasonable balance between contributing to reserves and funding programming

i. Better integrate business-focused processes and language into standard operations
ii. Examine current programs to determine if there are opportunities to increase net revenue
iii. Identify new opportunities to generate net revenue
iv. Increase money raised via fundraising initiatives

6. Advancement of Professionals in the Field

a. Key Goal: To further establish ADEC as the “learned society” in the field of thanatology, grief, and bereavement

i. Develop a set of essential standards for the training and preparation of grief counselors
ii. Develop a list of recommended materials for training grief counselors
iii. Publish a 3rd edition of the Handbook of Thanatology

Timeline and Next Steps

An effective strategic plan has a clearly defined scope and timeline; ADEC’s Strategic Plan is intended to be carried out over the next three years. Some of the tasks contained within these six goals are already being implemented, as in the case of adjustments to the plans for the 2015 Annual Conference to reduce expenses, or the creation of materials that will help make you member-ambassadors. Other tasks are being scheduled for 2015 and beyond, as dictated by the plan. You will continue to hear about these goals and tasks as they develop in the coming years.

In the next several weeks, we’ll begin a series of detailed communications related to each Strategic Goal. The first will be Identity of ADEC. The conversation began at a Town Hall meeting at the annual conference in Baltimore and will continue through an online discussion platform on the ADEC member web pages, as well as in the next issue of The Forum. You will receive information detailing the keys about each goal, its related strategies and tasks. Where a vote of the membership is required, every member in good standing will be given an opportunity to participate.

Our goals are transparency and inclusion. You will have a voice and an opportunity to participate in the implementation of the Strategic Plan and the direction that ADEC will take in the coming years. 

Thank you,
ADEC Board of Directors