AAUW’s Strategic Plan and how It Impacts Our Branch by Liz Jordan


In 2017, AAUW National undertook a thorough and difficult self-examination.  AAUW had been spending beyond its revenues for about a decade and had already sold the AAUW building of which we were all so proud.  The board hired Kim Churches, who helped the Board of Directors examine every project, every committee, every pot of money and fund that AAUW has developed over the years and refocused it to see just those elements that clearly identified AAUW.  From these discussions, they developed the three pillars of the AAUW 2018 Strategic Plan Beyond Aspirations: Advancing Equity for Women and Girls. You can access a copy of this plan on the aauw.org website.

Strategic Plan

At the heart of the plan are Research and Mission.  As the plan states: AAUW’s work is always grounded in research-based on acts and rigorous analysis…Based on the plan’s robust objectives, we will partner with research organizations, such as universities, think tanks, nonprofit organizations and others to deliver on the proposed research agenda. The mission will remain as our guide, “to advance gender equity for all women and girls.”

The three pillars are:

  • Education and & Training (paying close attention to career and technical education, certificate or apprentice programs leading to lucrative careers and ensuring economic security)
  • Economic Security
  • Leadership

The Strategic Plan spells out 1-3 goals for each of these objectives.  See these listed on pages 9-12 of Beyond Aspirations @aauw.org.

All three of these pillars require the 4th Governance and Sustainability.  This final pillar is the one that keeps the other three standing – good governance of our organization and the budget to allow for the flexibility to sustain those pillars as needs change.

Impact on Donations to Association

When AAUW asks you for your donations now, it is to Greatest Needs Fund, which allows the organization to guide our efforts to accomplish the other three.  In addition to member donations, AAUW is competing in the donation marketplace with about 400 other equity nonprofit organizations.  The recent $500,000 grant from Coca-Cola funding the renewal of Work Smart is an example of success in this competitive marketplace.

One effort of the Greatest Needs Fund is to provide for new technology for AAUW.  Our current technological assets are 20 years old, ancient in terms of such a rapidly changing field.

What are branches supposed to do?

How do states and branches get involved in meeting the requirements set forth in Beyond Aspirations?  By competing for accomplishment recognition awards.  Remember the 5 Star Award Program from the early 1990s?  It’s back in the 2019-2020 version and accessible in detail on the national website.  Following, however, is a graphic way of understanding what we want to work on as a branch over the next several years.

5 Star Award Program

From the website, we can read, “the Five Star National Recognition Program rewards affiliates (states, branches, other organizations) for aligning their work with the AAUW strategic plan and other initiatives that foster the organization’s mission of advancing gender equity for women and girls. The program … promote[s] cohesion between AAUW national and affiliates and increase[s] understanding and implementation of the strategic plan goals. National recognition allows AAUW National to acknowledge and celebrate affiliates that advance AAUW’s mission.”

Programs — Do All

  1. Host 3-5 strategic plan related programs in FY20; e.g. Forum on economic security, Work Smart Training Day, Operation Equity; Reading for Results participation, a panel on women and leadership
  2. Branch Representatives complete community resource mapping exercise

Advancement – Do Two

  1. $30 per capita for greatest needs fund/shift branch giving to greatest needs by 50%
  2. Retain 90% of membership and submit dues by 9/30
  3. Increase Legacy Circle members in State by 10%

Communications & External Relations Do All

  1. Website/social media presence has Economic Security Focus and WorkSmart online and on the homepage.
  2. Monthly WorkSmart posts on social media

Public Policy & Research – Do All

  1. Annual meeting with U.S. Rep/Senator or state legislators around strategic plan area of focus
  2. Have Branch Public Policy chair collaborate with State Public Policy Chair
  3. Host one public event where Action Network  signups are collected

Your Board of Directors plans to work this year and into next year analyzing current Sacramento programs and practices for compliance with the 5 Star Award Program.   Our goal is to create the needed programs and practices that will earn our branch all 5 stars.  We encourage you to join the effort!!

Governance & Sustainability – Do All

  1. Align planning with state and AAUW National Strategic Plans.
  2. Branch Board institutes a succession plan to ensure new ideas and perspectives are included in future leadership.

To ask questions or to offer help, contact: