On May 11, 2019, the Shalem Network Board convened a day-long Strategic Planning session, dreaming about the next three to five years of ministry by Shalem. The Shalem staff and the Board members of the Shalem Mental Health Foundation (invited guests of the Network Board) were active participants in the conversation. Our Facilitator was Chris Wignall, Executive Director of the Catalyst Foundation, with whom we have a three-year “Leadership Development” Partnership. It was a day of thanksgiving to God, celebration, dreaming, and attempting to discern God’s calling for Shalem in its next season of development.
Why Strategic Planning now? We have completed our most recent three-year Strategic Plan (extended to four years, due to the untimely death of our staff member Andrew Debicki). And that begs the question: how did Shalem do under its most recent plan?
The answer: the growth of Shalem in the last five years has been truly staggering. Take a look at the five-year comparison of our client numbers and you’ll get a sense of what I mean. One of the most extraordinary aspects of this growth is that it has taken place on essentially the same budget. Five years ago our budget was about $1.3 million annually. In 2018 our budget was about $1.4 million.
The recently completed Strategic Plan was called “Impact and Influence”—our aim is to have an impact with the people we serve, and to influence the field of mental health towards even better practice, based on our DNA in the mental health field. Our goal is to develop new, integrated partnerships between communities and the professional mental health sector. In the last Networker issue, my article was entitled “Shalem Goes National”—the title itself offers one indicator of progress in both impact and influence. Our 2018 Annual Report contains more about that too. We have so much to be grateful for!
So, what’s next for Shalem? Along with how we have been blessed, we continue to have needs and concerns. Our long-term financial sustainability is still not in hand. Progress has been made, and 2018 was our best financial year. But we’re not there yet.
We are looking at a more comprehensive Communications Strategy, and a more intentional implementation of rigourous evaluation across our programs through a strengthened, more central presence for our new Shalem Center of Excellence and Learning in Community-Based Mental Health.
So stay tuned! The Board expects to have a new Strategic Plan completed and approved by December, 2019.
We depend on God for our daily sustenance, which God continues to provide for us in breathtaking ways—especially through our sacrificial donors, supporters, members and friends. Thank you for your ongoing support, and for your prayers! They have a real impact (as you can see from the five-year comparison). We are hugely grateful for them and we do not take them for granted.
With these reflections comes an invitation: we would welcome your input into the planning for Shalem’s future, always from the perspective of seeking God’s guidance. Please don’t hesitate to offer any suggestions, reflections, thoughts on direction, ministry and service for Shalem. I can assure you that your suggestions will be gratefully received and fed into the Strategic Planning process. Please do email me any reflections you may have. I am also happy to speak on the phone: 905-531-7227.
I look forward to sharing with you our next Strategic Plan at the end of this year!
Mark Vander Vennen, MA, M.Ed, R.S.W., is Executive Director of the Shalem Mental Health Network