Planning for the Future

Article excerpt

AJS is strategically planning for the next three to five years. So, it is a time to look back over the past three years, when our last strategic plan was in effect, as well as forwards. I write to share some of my observations, point out the major issues, and solicit your comments. Every member can participate in the strategic planning process.

After September 11, the equities market went into a serious decline. The media reported about the impact of September 11 on the nonprofit world. Many nonprofits went out of existence. Others had to scale back operations. Government funding for court improvement work dried up. Foundations temporarily stopped or drastically curtailed funding. Individuals, seeing the value of their portfolios shrink, gave less and to fewer charities. It was predicted by the experts that except for well-endowed organizations, all nonprofits faced the prospect of going out of business.

Thanks to the generosity of many people, and especially Dwight Opperman, AJS came through the last three years in the best financial condition it has ever been in. It is now housed in the beautiful Opperman Center at Drake University, and is well-positioned to share a long and mutually successful affiliation with Drake. AJS has built a reserve to secure its future. It is time for AJS to build on this financial foundation so that it may engage in programming and projects important to the AJS mission and our constituents; without regard to whether grant funds are available. Our fundraising must now begin to take advantage of the fact that a higher percentage of donated dollars can go directly into programs and projects, rather than to pay overhead. What approaches will stimulate our members to help AJS financially, so that the organization may take full advantage of this golden opportunity?

Every thinking person wants a qualified and independent judiciary and the effective administration of justice. AJS has been at the forefront of improving the justice system as a nonpartisan organization for over 90 years and stands tall for the quality of its work and accomplishments over the years. Where have we been and where should AJS devote its precious resources in the future?

* In the past three years, AJS secured the funds to open the National Jury Center, which is currently under the leadership of David McCord. David is hard at work building a Web site, planning programs, working on curriculum for high school students, developing ways to improve the response to jury summonses, and collaborating with other organizations and court systems.

* Our work in criminal justice system reform reached levels of accomplishment never before realized by any organization with the highlight being The National Conference on Preventing the Conviction of Innocent Persons held in Alexandria, Virginia in January 2003. …