Junior League of Atlanta: Strategic Plan for 2023-2026

Empowering Women to Transform the Atlanta Community Together

Since its founding over a century ago in 1916, the Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. (JLA) has served as a catalyst for positive, meaningful change for women and children in Atlanta. The JLA was instrumental in founding some of the most important non-profit and educational institutions in the city, including the Atlanta Speech School, the Atlanta Children’s Shelter, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Trees Atlanta, and CHRIS180. Our members have been at the forefront at solving the most pressing issues facing our community for 107 years, recognizing that we make a deeper impact when we come together and work collectively.

Through our work with over 200 different non-profit organizations in the wider metro Atlanta area,we provide expertise, leadership, and support where we are needed most. The JLA has supported countless community projects and initiatives through our pipeline of trained volunteer leaders coupled with strategic funding and direct advocacy. However, the pandemic altered the way organizations both need and utilize volunteers and the way women seek to engage in their community. As we look to define what the future of JLA looks like, we recognize the need to prioritize three critical areas of our organization over the next three years: Membership Experience, Community Impact, and Operational Excellence.

With more than 3,400 members during our Centennial Year in 2016, our membership numbers
have been dramatically decreasing year-over-year and currently sit at just over 2,100 members. Feedback on a complex organizational structure, communication gaps, and quality placement experiences with an overall lack of focus and clarity of our mission are all factors in the decrease. It is critical that we hone in on these and ensure a seamless membership experience guided by organized and efficient operations.

The gaps in opportunities for women and children in Atlanta are unique and wide. For years, Atlanta has been named one of the worst cities for income inequality, with just 4% of children born into poverty ever being able to move to the middle class. At the JLA, we believe women and children in communities disproportionately affected by social and economic inequities are resilient and resourceful. We believe that ALL women and children should be self-determined and have agency over their lives. And we believe that community involvement – OUR community involvement – will make the largest impact.

The JLA is guided by our vision to be a catalyst for community change by empowering women who are passionately focused on the health, education, and welfare of women and children and is operating under a new mission to advance women’s leadership for meaningful community impact through volunteer action, collaboration, and training. Prioritizing these statements, our organizational values, and our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, JLA puts forth the following goals, steps to make strategic shifts, and measurements of success to ensure the viability and sustainability of the organization for many years to come.

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Goal 1: Membership Experience 

The Junior League of Atlanta member experience inspires lifelong membership by promoting the members’ ability to be an effective community volunteer leader, ensuring the relevancy of Junior League membership. 

The following steps are recommended to make this strategic shift: 

  • Provide a uniquely valuable membership experience that offers women the opportunity to develop relevant volunteer leadership skills through well-managed experiential learning, opportunities to serve, and training 
  • Evaluate and redefine membership requirements, including placement obligations and fundraising, to satisfy organizational needs to fulfill mission and to strengthen membership commitment and accountability
  • Foster a culture of clear, open, and consistent communication built on respect, transparency, and knowledge sharing
  • Develop and implement a formalized Recruitment plan, including targeted efforts through service-minded women with clarity around value proposition and mission ● Ensure the New Member development program and experience is rooted in organizational history, structure, and community impact; and is delivered consistently and timely
  • Elevate JLA’s brand as the organization that Atlanta women join to be trained volunteers serving the community, by telling impact stories, utilizing mission-relevant communications, and maintaining brand-aligned communication strategies 

Measurements of Success: 

  • 250 Provisional Member class annually by year end FY2025 
  • 90% conversion rate of Provisional to Active membership by year end FY2025 ● 95% annual retention rate at each level of membership by year end FY2026 ● 90% of membership reports understanding of JLA mission, vision, and story measured annually through the membership survey
  •  Brand audit developed and implemented (internally and externally) by year end FY2026 ● 90% of members report connection with other members through their placement, formal training, and/or other opportunities to serve, measured annually through the membership survey

Goal 2: Community Impact 

Junior League of Atlanta members are involved community leaders that leverage our collective volunteer service and collaboration to strategically address factors at the root cause of inequities in Atlanta and increase the self-determination of women and children. 

The following steps are recommended to make this strategic shift: 

  • Deepen our Community Impact work by focusing on a single critical issue area of community need, impacting the self-determination of women and children Community Placements, Projects, Advocacy, and Coalitions are selected by proactively defining where and how members can best serve, through evaluation of volunteer needs in the community; alignment within both the issue area and additional community needs; and the skills and abilities of members 
  • Strategically collaborate with mission- and issue-aligned community leaders and change makers, sharing our goal of empowering women and children to be self-determined ● Create a clear, actionable multi-year community impact plan within identified issue area, clarifying the outcomes we expect to see in that area
  • Actively educate members on the selected impact/issue area, building expertise in it as a root cause of inequities

Measurements of Success: 

  • 90% of JLA members are knowledgeable about selected issue and its impact on equity by year end FY2026
  • 40% of the JLA budget is directly allocated to the achievement of the League’s Community Impact work by year end FY2026
  • 75% of active members are serving in community roles and placements by year end FY2026
  • 90% of members report understanding of the impact of JLA through their placement measured annually through the membership survey 
  • (Additional measurements of success will be defined with issue selection)

Goal 3: Operational Excellence 

The Junior League of Atlanta operates within a sustainable governance and management system that streamlines our structure, ensuring operational excellence and programmatic impact. 

The following steps are recommended to make this strategic shift: 

  • Review and consider the split governance and management model, creating a governing Board and a separate Management Team
  • Create a diversified fund development plan and infrastructure that assures stable and sustainable resource acquisition drawing on both internal and external support ● Strengthen members’ placement satisfaction by ensuring high-quality volunteer opportunities with relevant training and clear communication from placement leader ● Increase revenue through retention and recruitment with updated message clarity through intentional, engaging marketing strategy that supports our mission and shares our story 
  • Establish an actionable process for knowledge transfer and leadership training, ensuring consistency of programming year over year 
  • Provide financial transparency to members through financial dashboards and reporting Measurements of Success:
  • A sustainable split governance and management model is considered for adoption by year end FY2024 with an implementation rollout plan in effect by year end FY2026 ● Increase annual operating budget to $1 Million by year end FY2026 
  • 40% of annual revenue generated from fundraiser(s) by year end FY2026 ● 50% of members give beyond their dues annually by year end FY2025