Jo Daviess County: Laying the Groundwork

How did a rural conservation land trust begin thinking about crafting its own beer? It all started with strategic planning and the outcomes were far greater than just a custom brew.

Shortly after receiving funding support from the USDA Rural Community Development Initiative Philanthropic Tools grant, JDCF started working on a strategic plan that would guide the organization into the future.

“It’s critical to have strong leadership guiding the way towards a long-term vision,” say Trifone-Simon. “What helped to clarify our process and create movement was the support provided by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. It was an objective third party that facilitated a clear process and assisted with tools and resources that made the difference. I think that’s one of the many values the Foundation brought to the table.“

Facilitated by Kari McCann, former director of nonprofit partnerships and grantmaking at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, the strategic planning process was based on Peter Drucker’s The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization. McCann observed, “The mission to preserve land here in Jo Daviess County is exciting to be part of.”

“Kari brought great credibility to the process,” says Steve Barg, JDCF executive director. “She was a valued member of the team. We didn’t just view her as an outside facilitator, but as a colleague.”

The five questions were simple yet thought-provoking and led to clear understanding of the organization’s role and purpose in Jo Daviess County. According to McCann, the process was successful because the JDCF:

  • had a clear vision;
  • was deeply engaged;
  • had a dedicated strategic planning committee; and
  • was thoughtful in its approach.

“JDCF had a nice blend of folks who really understood the conservation side of the game and people that really understood strategic goal setting and strategic planning,” says McCann. “So when you married those two together, you really had a powerful team.”

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