The Toronto Vegetarian Association was founded in 1945 by a small group of individuals who banded together to find common cause organizing social gatherings, lectures and letter-writing campaigns. Today’s Toronto Vegetarian Association is a professional charitable organization delivering information and resources through a variety of programs including websites, a print directory and workshop events. Our flagship event, the Annual Vegetarian Food Fair, is attended by more than 20,000 people each year.

At the start of 2011 the Toronto Vegetarian Association is supported by more than a thousand members, hundreds of volunteers including dozens of program leaders, and committee and board members, and two full-time staff supported by part-time and contract positions.

Throughout its 65-year history, the leaders of the Toronto Vegetarian Association have worked to support Toronto’s vegetarian and vegan communities and to inspire people to choose a healthier, greener, more peaceful lifestyle.

This document seeks to strengthen the organization so we can increase the impact of our efforts to support vegetarians and inspire others. The new plan is the result of 12 months spent soliciting input from members and volunteers, working with key individuals to prioritize our goals, and developing action plans with those responsible for carrying out the activities described within. This participatory approach is another healthy sign that the Toronto Vegetarian Association is well-equipped to achieve this plan over the next three years.

VISION

The Toronto Vegetarian Association is a broad coalition of individuals motivated by commitments to moral and personal concerns, including (but not limited to) compassion and advocacy for animals, personal and public health, and ecological sustainability. As we engage people with each of these important issues through our work, we advocate a common solution: to move away from the standard meat-centred North American diet in favour of healthy and delicious plant-based alternatives.

Over the next three years the Toronto Vegetarian Association will develop our funding model, our human resources and our status as an authority on plant-based living so we can increase our impact through outreach and community support.

Success will mean stable and diversified funding for all activities; greater volunteer engagement; increased capacity to provide resources; larger and more diverse membership and volunteer base; and increased impact of our outreach programs and community initiatives.

PROCESS USED

In late 2007, the Toronto Vegetarian Association introduced its first strategic plan covering the period from 2008 to 2010. This plan helped us to align the Toronto Vegetarian Association’s existing programs with the three pillars of the vegetarian movement: sustainability, healthy eating and compassion for animals. We also laid the groundwork for long-term strategies to increase our persuasiveness, grow our revenue and make the organization more inclusive. In late 2010, we reviewed the achievements of the previous plan in order to incorporate the lessons learned into this document.

The process of creating the 2011-13 Strategic Plan began in the spring of 2010. We started by consulting with our members about the importance of TVA’s work and their aspirations for the organization. These results were further developed in a full-day strategic visioning session with board members, core volunteers and staff.

This session was coordinated by process consultant Mariam Hashemi, whose efforts were an integral part of this process. Working with the board’s Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee, Hashemi designed a procedure for attendees to review TVA’s history, to examine what’s working and what could be improved, to consider the organization’s implicit and explicit critical values, and to explore external trends, events and developments.In the second phase of the session, participants were invited to imagine TVA’s position in 2015 and to work together in small groups to develop ways to move TVA from its position in 2010 toward a “preferred future.”

The six core initiatives that emerged provided a starting point for developing this document. The initiatives were expanded and refined with input and assistance from board members, committees, staff and position-holders indicated as owners of action items specified in the implementation plans. This resulted in the five critical core initiatives found in this document

CORE INITIATIVES

The core initiatives of the 2011-13 Strategic Plan fall into two categories.The first three relate to strengthening the Toronto Vegetarian Association internally. The other two relate to the desired external results for the period of this plan.

1. Stable diversified funding and self-sustaining events – This initiative builds on TVA’s core fundraising strengths to achieve stable, diversified funding. It sets achievable financial goals for growing TVA’s program, events and membership revenue with a view toward overcoming TVA’s structural deficit over the term of this strategic plan and creates a framework to ensuring that events are revenue neutral and that the impact of new events on existing activities be assessed prior to being added to TVA’s calendar of activities.

2. Engaged staff and volunteers supported with ample resources – We will strengthen and grow TVA’s programs and initiatives by increasing our human skills, power and energy. This initiative will increase recruitment, training, recognition and support for TVA volunteers and create an environment where TVA staff are supported through professional development and other human resources best practices.

3. Be an authority on plant-based living – TVA will develop its resources and expertise on plant-based living so we are recognized as the go-to resource for those seeking information and support. We will dispense appropriate information through our programs and increase our ability to communicate in an effective and timely way to promote vegetarianism.

4. Outreach is focused on gaining commitment to some level of plant-based living – We will review and revise TVA’s strategy for asking people to make commitments (to meat reduction, to veganism, to vegetarianism, etc.), improve our ability to measure how effective we are in generating commitment, and, ultimately, further develop our efficacy as an organization that encourages changing behaviour.

5. Supporting existing vegetarian and vegan communities – We will aim to ensure that TVA’s programs effectively support vegetarians and vegans in maintaining a plant-based lifestyle. This initiative will build on successful programming, such as the Vegetarian Directory, Food Fair, Resource Centre and social groups in order to continue to support TVA’s community of members and supporters while expanding our reach to support local vegetarians not yet involved with the organization.

TRACKING OUR SUCCESS

We will monitor our progress using key performance indicators that have been established in each of the core initiatives outlined above. Each year members of the board will be assigned to evaluate progress toward each initiative. Each board member will work with the owner of the initiative and the Programs Review Committee to develop ongoing benchmarks and report progress to the board. An annual review by the board will take place each year of the plan where progress will be reviewed and adjustments made as necessary.

CONCLUSION

The 2011-13 Strategic Plan builds on the strengths of the Toronto Vegetarian Association to sustain and build upon our existing activities so that our impact can be enhanced and our reach expanded. Together we will continue to do effective work to achieve our mission: to inspire people to choose a healthier, greener, more peaceful lifestyle.