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AIDS Project Los Angeles Organization’s Strategic Planning Process

Introduction and overview

Non profit organizations are often started to address various challenges faced by the society. In most cases the organizations are usually at grass roots level and with no formal structures. However, such small groups at times develop into large organizations responsive to the needs of thousands of people with different backgrounds. At this juncture the organizations begin to experience managerial challenges brought about by their perceived social outlook, non-profit nature and reluctance to involve technocrats in their day to day operations (Drucker, 2005). This paper seeks to make use of a case study and bring to the fore the typical managerial challenges faced by the non-profit health organizations and recommend a strategic planning process that can address the challenges.

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AIDS project Los Angeles (APLA) is non-profit organization that was established in 1981. APLA become a formal non profit organization in 1983. In the same year a board was setup and it facilitated the acquisition of 501(c) (3) status by the APLA. The organization mainly utilized the services of volunteers who “compensated for the lack of Government and private funding to pay for the AIDs related services” (Beaudin, Senax, & Goodstein, 1995). In 1988 the organization experienced a financial difficulty due to its unprecedented growth and this prompted the employment of a business leader who took over the micromanagement activities initially performed by the board. Without a strategic plan, the board had no other mandate other than organizing fundraising activities. Initially, the organization was established to offer care in the meantime in hope that a cure for AIDS will be found before the decade ends. It was never anticipated that the care will turn into a long-term activity and worse still be required to address the various social challenges that AIDS was creating. In brief, the client needs had shifted over time from primarily crisis response service such as education and palliative care to long-term personal support services. (Beaudin, Senax, & Goodstein, 1995) A wider scope of services was now needed by people with HIV and people with AIDS. In early 1993 the board of directors of AIDS project Los Angeles began the process of developing a long-term strategic plan to address the increasingly diverse needs of persons with HIV (Beaudin, Senax, & Goodstein, 1995).

Specific Roles

The specific challenges that now faced the APLA and other similar organizations were brought about by: the influence of bureaucratization and professionalization; the dramatic increase in the populations that were now becoming victims of the HIV; the extended life expectancy of HIV patients that was brought about by chemotherapy necessitated the need for long-term care; the widened scope of services required by the PwHIVs and PWAs to include psychological needs; increased rates of infection due to viral mutation creating the need for education on the need for prevention and intervention; other social disadvantages for people with AIDS such as unemployment, homelessness, increased infection rates among the chronically mentally ill among other factors. The APLA and other similar organizations were required to develop planning strategies to address the current challenges.

Major problems and secondary Issues

A client Needs assessment conducted in the summer of 1993 revealed the following; the assessed clients gave an overall positive rating for the organization. The particular departments that were positively rated included the “Insurance Public Benefits, Necessities of Life Program (NOLP), and Dental services, Education, Publications and Treatment Education” (Beaudin, Senax, & Goodstein, 1995). Programs that got mixed responses included the legal services, case management, Intake, and mental health. Clients were dissatisfied with the difficulties in accessing programs, waiting time for callbacks, and consistency of staff responses to questions (Beaudin, Senax, & Goodstein, 1995). Dissimilarity was seen to exist between what the overall organization and specific departments felt they offered and what the clients and community felt was conveyed. The needs also assessment revealed many employee concerns that had an overall impact on the organization. They believed that the care for PWAs was obstructed by territoriality, staff turnover, and competition and infighting over resources (Beaudin, Senax, & Goodstein, 1995). They were dissatisfied by the inability of the APLA to provide continuous and consistent care. Other issues identified included lack of competence by some staff members in handling of some tasks and lower salaries as compared to other similar organizations.

The strategic planning process may be hampered by the fact that strategic leadership is not fully developed at the time of when the needs assessment was being carried out. APLA is also faced with a situation where its employees are leaving the company to seek employment elsewhere.

Organizational strengths and weaknesses

The organizations strengths include; the ability to mobilize a large number of volunteers who come in handy to compensate for the lack of financial support from the government and the private sector. The second lie in the Board’s ability to mobilize huge sums of financial resources through fundraising activities and thus the organization is able to meet its financial needs. Thirdly, the organization had a dedicated team of employees that were in tune with their obligations of serving people with AIDS. The APLA was also a known entity with good reputation.

The APLA had the following weaknesses: there was no strategic planning framework in place and this led to many problems. Particularly, it led to client dissatisfaction as the dedicated team of employees and volunteers did not have any framework to optimize their service delivery. Secondly, there was a weakness was in the way the organization recruited their staff members, through the years the organization had grown from a grassroots level type organization to a formal structured non profit organization. However, the organization was taking to long to professionalize its activities. Thirdly, there was a disconnection between the organization’s services and the expectations by the community. Other weaknesses included the following: the organization had a host of staff associated problems such as competition, low morale. The board was also not in tune with the expectations of the society they were serving.

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Alternative cause of Action

As seen from the above challenges, it is imperative that APLA should adopt a management style that is responsive to the widened scope of challenges brought about by HIV AIDs. The strategic planning approach should be able tackle the individual problems revealed by the needs assessment. A typical strategic planning approach can be as follows. First, the strategy should address the challenges faced by the employees. For instance the organization should develop an employee training program or make it a policy to recruit professionals to handle its core tasks. Secondly the strategy should solve the leadership dilemma and enable a smooth flow of activities in the organization. All the components of the strategic plan should be aimed at achieving maximum client satisfaction (McGinnis, 2010).

Before carrying out of the strategic planning process, a team should be selected to oversee the planning and implementation of the process. An ideal team should have representatives from all the APLA departments and technocrats who are familiar with the strategic planning process. The following key elements of a strategic planning process should be considered by the team: Leadership that has ideal “values such as credibility, competency, courage and commitment should be sought” (Grobman, 2008, p. 34). The strategic framework should be tailor made to address the specific challenges as revealed by the needs assessment report. The strategic plan should take into account the “organizations values, traditions, norms and adaptability” (Huff & Barr, 2000, p. 32). The Key operations in the strategic framework should be captured in operational plans that include the specific structures and resources to be used. Thus the strategic plan for APLA should typically address the following.

Develop an organizational culture and behavior that will not only realize increased corporation among the employees but also enable them work effectively for the benefit of the clients (Mcdonald, 1999). This can be achieved through changing the employees’ perceptions and attitudes towards each other and the client (Teng, 2000). The plan should take into consideration the current reality of AIDS patients, thus the plan should include an appropriate framework that will ensure that the long-term implications of HIV are addressed (Murray, 2009). The plan should also include the diversification of all the aspects of the organization to reflect the needs of different populations that now form its client base. Thus APLAs organizational culture and behavior should not be seen to discriminatory or unable to meet the needs of some clients (Huselid, 1995). APLA should also harmonize the salaries of its employees so that it is similar to what is being offered by other organizations. This will go a long way in preventing the employees from leaving the organization to get employed elsewhere.

The APLA strategy should also include harmonizing its services to march those provided by other AIDS groups. Specifically, it should be able to address the challenges brought about by the long periods associated with AIDS. Thus, the organization should focus on providing care for patients while they are at home with their families. This should include training of family members on how to provide long term care for their loved ones.

Currently, the leadership of APLA is under six directors who lead different strategic dockets. Every director has a specific role and reports directly to the chairman of the board of directors. These directors are responsible for the running the organization technically. Besides, the organization has a committee with four officers and sixteen directors who are drawn from different specialties. The strategy has addressed most of the issues that were revealed by the needs assessment. The diversification of the board has been particularly important due to the increased responsibilities. In a nut shell, the APLA has come a long way and is now fully responsive for the needs of people affected with HIV and AIDS.

Reference list

Beaudin, C., Senax, M., & Goodstein, R. (1995). AIDS PROJECT LOS ANGELES. Institution for social and policy studies, Yale University.

Bourgeois, D. (2006). Charities and Not-for-Profit Fundingraising Handbook. Markham: Lexis Nexis Butterworths Publishers.

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Drucker, P. (2005). Strategic planning for non profit public health organizations. London: wiley.

Grobman, G. (2008). The Nonprofit Handbook: Everything you need to know to start and run Your Non profit Organization. New York: White Hat Communications.

Huff, S., & Barr, P. (2000). When firms change direction. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.

Huselid, M. (1995). The Impact of Human resource management practices on turnover, productivity, and corporate financial perfomance. Academy of Management Journal , 38-645.

Mcdonald, P. (1999). Strategic planning and goal setting in Health organisations. Doctoral Lecture notes.

McGinnis, S. (2010). Organizational Behavior and Management thinking. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Murray, V. (2009). The Management of Nonprofit and charitable Organization in Canada. Markham: LexisNexis Butterworths Publishers.

Teng, K. (2000). Strategic Planning for Non-profit Organizations. Journal of Management Studies , 20 (3), 783-795.

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