Our New Strategic Plan

In today’s resource-challenged climate, it seems all too often strategic planning and programmatic reality live in separate dimensions. It’s sometimes tempting to define the “new normal” as a state of difficult compromise. But what if organizations viewed this as an opportunity to reinvent, reinvigorate, repurpose, and propel their organizations forward? CAA is beginning to implement a dynamic new five-year strategic plan with this perspective guiding us. The focus of CAA’s new plan is—focus.

It can be a challenging business, this focus. There are so many programs CAA does well, and there are many good reasons to support them all. Indeed, the breadth and depth of CAA’s programming is our greatest strength as well as our greatest challenge. But now is the perfect time to revisit and refocus the ways in which we inform, engage, and inspire our global alumni community.

So it’s with a clear vision and a focused plan, we approach a new year and a new era. Our “new normal” is defined by opportunity, innovation, connectivity, creativity, and enthusiasm for all we will accomplish. After all, as an alumni community, together we keep Cal golden.

Fiat Lux and Go Bears! Jefferson C.M. Coombs ’89


There’s a significant element of the strategic plan that I don’t agree with. That’s the emphasis on fundraising. Cal has very strong fundraising programs, both centrally and in many of the colleges and departments as well as in Athletics and other associated enterprises. These programs enable donors and prospective donors to connect with elements of the university about which they feel the most passionate. Your plan to expand CAA fundraising continues the destructive and non-collaborative practices of the past: competing with other units on campus instead of cooperating and integrating with what they do. Another aspect of your plan that’s implicit rather than explicit is that you’re really talking about providing all of these services and solicitations to CAA members, not to alumni writ large. California magazine only goes to CAA members. Online services such as the alumni directory and career services are only available to CAA members. I am the only CAA member among all the people who graduated with my undergraduate degree in my year. I connect with my friends and classmates via other means, not through the CAA. So you put out this brave new plan and tell us members that it’s aimed at all alumni, but in reality it’s named at all alumni association members, a much smaller subset.
Hi Jim, Thank you for taking the time to reply to my recent posting about CAA’s 2013-2017 strategic plan. I’d like to respond to your concerns and express why I respectfully disagree with some of your conclusions. First of all, you are absolutely correct that Cal has an outstanding fundraising operation — both through the central efforts of our colleagues at University Relations, as well as through the efforts in the Schools and Colleges and various other units at Cal, like athletics and the Berkeley Art Museum. As a self funded non profit 501(c)(3) organization, CAA relies on membership, alumni program revenues and philanthropic support to sustain and expand our efforts. Because we do not receive any funding from the campus, yet exist to promote and sustain alumni support of the campus, it is essential we grow our revenues in order to achieve our strategic support of Cal. Now you are also correct that CAA is expanding our efforts to grow our development function. We are doing this because we want to expand our scholarship programs (dollars, students served) as well as expand our alumni programs. As you know, raising scholarship dollars for undergraduate education at Cal has long been a cornerstone of CAA’s work. In fact, we are among the largest scholarship fundraising operations on the Berkeley campus. Additionally, the CAA Fund was developed to provide alumni with a passion for our programs to support them in an unrestricted fashion. These alumni programs are very distinct from the many important campus programs and initiatives promoted by the Cal Fund and the division priorities. During all these changes and as we developed our strategic priorities, CAA enhanced and deepened its partnership and collaboration with campus fundraising colleagues. With all of this said, I must respectfully but strongly disagree with your comment that CAA’s increased emphasis on fundraising and development is repeat past behavior that is “destructive and non-collaborative.” That is not the case. We are providing alumni with several additional avenues to support their alma mater. It’s also important to note one of our priorities is to actively promote ALL campus giving opportunities to alumni, whether they are CAA programs or not. While there may be a future where a CAA Fund is no longer required, until we reach that point, annual unrestricted fundraising is an operational requirement. That said, CAA will always communicate clearly, proactively and work closely with our campus development colleagues to avoid confusion among alums and cannibalization of efforts. That is very important to me and to the CAA. Finally, I wanted to address your comment that our programs only serve a small subset of the alumni community. Actually that is not the case, nor is it our intention. We plan to reach and serve ALL interested alumni by investing in NEW programs like our Berkeley Network career program and a digital interactive version of California magazine, and by expanding our alumni clubs programming and community service initiatives. Certainly there are a number of members-only services at CAA, but a core aspect of our plan is to inform, inspire and engage ALL interested Cal alumni — regardless of membership status. I hope this helps assuage some of your concerns. Thank you for taking the time to voice your option and by all means, if you would like to continue to conversation, I would be more than happy to do so. With best regards from Berkeley.

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