ACSO Strategic Plan RFP

The Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) has begun the process to draft a new strategic plan. 

About ACSO

ACSO was founded in 1969 by a small group of committed orchestra managers who believed in the power of local networking. Almost 50 years later, ACSO remains the hub of California’s vibrant classical music community by providing a variety of services to its members including networking, mentorship, resource sharing, advocacy, and professional development.

The organization experienced a major leadership change in 2016. The former executive director of thirty-one years, retired, and after a national search, a new executive director was hired, who relocated from out of state. When the new executive director came on board, he moved the offices from Sacrament to Los Angeles.

Currently, ACSO serves 180 individual dues paying members and 120 organizational members spanning across the state and region: 48 in northern California, 14 in the central region of the state, 50 in southern California, and eight out of state (including business members). With individual members, orchestra staff members, board members, and musicians, the association serves 2,000+ people.

Project Description

The ACSO Board and Staff have already completed Phase 1 of a three-phase strategic planning project. This RFP is to employ services to lead the organization through Phase 2 and 3 over a six-month time period. 

Phase 1 (completed March – August 2017): Setting a Framework
Board discussion to outline vision and goals for strategic planning process (see Core Objectives section below). Board committee formed and project timeline established.

Phase 2 (September – December 2017): Data Gathering & Analysis
Gain a better understanding of the current needs of our members – or potential members – through quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative data gathering through member-wide survey, engaging all stakeholders (see Target Audiences & Stakeholders section below). Qualitative data gathering through statewide “listening tour,” i.e. professional development workshops with a facilitator-led discussion forum component.

Phase 3 (December 2017 – January 2018): Strategizing & Detailed Planning
Findings and themes from data presented to committee. Full board discussion and planning at January convening. Plan to be finalized by committee by March 1 for presentation to the full board at the March board meeting.

Core Objectives

During Phase 1 of this three-phase process, the ACSO board and staff identified the following core objectives for Phase 2 and Phase 3 as we work to develop a new strategic plan:

  1. Understand the current needs of our members and prospective members in order to better serve and ultimately grow our membership.
  2. Continue working to ACSO’s strengths of being a vital network in the industry and providing rich learning opportunities.
  3. Explore broadening who we serve geographically (e.g. Western States service area) and/or broadening constituent focus (e.g. better serving future leaders through talent development for the field, better serving orchestra volunteers, better serving musicians, better helping organizations - especially smaller ones - have greater success, helping members do more around engaging the community and building audiences).
  4. Identify steps/actions to enable ACSO to be a top leader in the field nationally (e.g. thought leadership with current issues and trends, a model service organization for inclusivity and diversity), while remembering that organizations with different budget sizes have different needs and should be addressed differently.
  5. Review the mission and vision of the organization.
  6. Produce a 3-year strategic plan with actionable timeline, viable financial model, and measurable metrics and objectives.



Project Budget

The ACSO Board would like for this project to cost $8,000 - $15,000. This budget will cover all activities described herein to be led by Consultant, including qualitative and quantitative research, travel for leading statewide discussion forums, conference calls with committee, summary reports, and travel and time to lead full board discussion at January meeting.

Proposals must include an estimate for all work in the proposal, as well as hourly and daily rates; and
must include estimated costs of travel to locations around the state for listening sessions and focus groups, and meeting with ACSO board and staff. We anticipate that the strategic planning process will include travel for up to ten meetings across California and up to three board meetings in San Francisco, Monterey, and Los Angeles. Proposals should also factor in time for multiple conference calls and/or Skype sessions with the ACSO Strategic Planning Committee throughout the process.

Proposal Deliverables, Requirements, and Guidelines

Deliverables & Requirements

  • Develop survey for membership and key stakeholders
  • Attendance at and facilitation of all ten (10) statewide discussion forums
  • Participation in planning committee conference calls as outlined herein
  • Summary report from survey research with findings and trends
  • Summary report from discussion forums with findings and trends
  • Attendance at January ACSO full board meeting, leading action plan discussion
  • Final report with recommendations for key actions, outcomes, and metrics to be included in ACSO’s new strategic plan.

How to Apply?

Please download the full RFP to read the full scope of the project and how to apply.

Proposals are due by Friday, August 18, 2017 at 5:00PM PST.