My remarks from a recent OUSA Board member discussion:
I think our one sentence strategic agenda for the next few years should be to (1) promote growth through marketing and publicity, (2) advance technical development with emphasis on junior and scholastic programs, and (3) provide programming to support clubs.
We're working on our 2018 budget proposals now, and a 3-5 year strategic plan with measurable, quantifiable goals must be central to that. It is my assessment that over the past several (7-10) years, OUSA didn't really have a clear objective apart from continuing to exist. While a more limited objective for the organization - confined to simple amenities like insurance - is possible, any broader plan needs clear, measurable objectives. And the OUSA leadership needs to be able to articulate that vision briefly. Note that I wrote the above, though I think there is general support on the Board for all three points even as implementation details need to be determined.
To elaborate slightly:
1) Promote growth through marketing and publicity.
One of our main objectives is to grow the sport - increase starts, increase membership, increase the number of clubs. Not every club necessarily wants to grow, but those that do should be encouraged to do so. Most of what we do has to be at the club level, as a national campaign (say a Superbowl ad) seems unlikely to offer a good return on investment.
A big part of this effort is generalizing what lots of clubs have done. QOC has had an excellent social media marketing effort, a number of clubs have used tools like meetup, and many of clubs have modern, attractive websites. Bob Forgrave and Greg Lennon are developing a marketing pipeline to help clubs progress. This includes both marketing and event presentation.
Some of this will require experimentation. In addition to regular and attractive social media and updated websites, we may employ marketing consultants to help craft messaging. On the events side, we need to organize attractive race series and products to attract people and coordinate among clubs. Imagine if we had a Goat series in NY and New England with ~90 minute winning time, moderate difficulty courses (with shorter options). Eight of those in a year throughout the region could serve as a product to draw in adventure-type people. Finally, our junior development efforts (strategem 3) will tie into growth directly.
Quantifiably, we should move the bottom line. Increase annual starts from ~50k in 2017 to ~100k in 2022. Increase OUSA membership from ~1250 to 2500. Increase club membership from ~5k to ~10k.
2) Advance technical development with emphasis on junior and scholastic programs.
Programs like ARK, WIOL, Navigation Games, Florida's JROTC thing, and others are a major part of the future of orienteering in the US. We need ways to sustainably start these programs where there is sufficient interest and support.
The first part of this is collecting best practices - recording the step-by-step processes each of these entities used to develop. I think we should probably offer some remuneration to these organizations for the lessons they have learned. These resources - lesson plans, strategies, timetables, funding sources, promotional templates, etc - could be collected and made available for anyone in OUSA who wanted to use them.
Secondly, OUSA needs to provide startup funding. We need to identify candidate clubs who have interest, manpower, and opportunity (suitable partner organization - school, JROTC, BSA, whatever). Then OUSA should provide startup capital in conjunction with support from local sources. As a total rough guesstimate, suppose OUSA gave $2500 the first year, $5k the second, and $10k the third as grants - with funding contingent on certain milestones being met each year. Barb has accomplished a Herculean effort assembling Navigation Games from the ground up with no support from the national federation - and modest support from the two local clubs, NEOC and CSU. OUSA should make it easier for Barbs in other places to do the same.
OUSA is showing some support for this by appointing Barb as the Vice President of Junior Development (or something; I forget the title).
Third, OUSA needs to do more to support the pipeline of developing orienteers from recreational to competitive, and beginners to elite. This means making training resources available to clubs to start their own training groups. We should organize open training camps, coordinate them, and advertise them in a coherent place so someone who wants to improve can find support. Finally, we should do more to support the national teams - including modest funding allocations (which were $0 in 2017 and meager before that). I consider the Junior and Senior teams the two priorities among the 6 teams (Junior, Senior, Ski, MTB, Trail-O, and WUOC); as a starting point, I'd propose $8k to the Juniors, $5k to the seniors, and $1k to the other four. As part of this funding, the two primary teams should coordinate national team training camps - perhaps one on each coast. The Senior team should endeavor to get everyone to one training camp each year to promote team unity and provide a sense of accountability and motivation. OUSA should support our junior coaching and find ways to include rising juniors at the club level in our national program.
Quantifiable goal: Three new junior programs with > 1000 annual starts by 2022. Possibly also some intermediate goals, like k starts by year X and so on. Is three too few leagues to start up? Perhaps we could also set a goal of growth in the other junior programs.
3) Provide programming to support clubs.
OUSA is a loose association of clubs, and basically all the activity of importance happens there. While strategems (1) and (2) growth through marketing and junior development - are specific extensions, there are broad general services that OUSA can and should provide.
Some of these are obvious and relatively trivial. For instance, OUSA vaguely-sort-of-kind-of has a map loans/grants program. In principle, clubs can come and ask for money to help them fund a new map - either in the form of grants or loans. As far as I know, this program wasn't technically funded in 2017 and basically no one knows about it and how you get it (apart from knowing the VP clubs). Loans eventually come back, and I would guess funding of $5-10k for grants will be more than sufficient.
Event consulting: we already nominally provide national meet course consultants to help clubs keep their technical quality high. This is volunteer and orchestrated by Sanctioning. This program could be expanded, and particularly competent event organizers and course designers could hold clinics. For instance, Patrick Nuss could teach people how to hold successful sprint tournaments, or Boris could lead a course design clinic. This could be done via webinar/youtube or in person with the small cost of travel for the clinician.
Central database: This is a bit of a holy grail, but I imagine a world in which every club has all their metadata in the same database. Eventor is one possible implementation, but membership, courses, results, registration, and events could all be hosted in the same spot. It would enable sweet tools like the British orienteering federation's snazzy event finder
Website: the OUSA website template has had good interest thus far, and I hope to continue that program as well as expand the web offerings OUSA provides.
Expansion of National/World orienteering day is another obvious product. Insurance will continue to be a mainstay of OUSA's purpose. But, to be perfectly honest, this isn't a very long list, and most clubs don't take advantage of OUSA offerings. What can OUSA do for your club?