Toronto People with AIDS Foundation

Project Description

Start Date:

End Date:




Presenting Need

With an eye to building on PWA’s core strength in engaging people living with HIV/AIDS (‘PHAs’) in meaningful ways, we supported PWA to develop innovative, concrete strategic plans through a series of high engagement community-based initiatives. We involved a wide range of stakeholders in a series of reflective and creative conversations to generate the strategic plan while growing engagement and ownership of the work. This work has resulted in a clear and focused strategic plan along with increasingly engaged communities across the PWA system, that are mobilized and taking concrete aligned action.

Issues and Challenges

PWA’s current landscape includes the continually shifting needs of people who are living longer with HIV/AIDS, complexities of government funding and many other changing realities.  With this in mind we focused our work on building a strong collaborative community across the system, in the interest of co-creating strategic plans that are relevant, practical and adaptable to the ever-changing context of the work.


We worked collaboratively with a small group of PWA’s key leaders to co-create high engagement approaches to the strategic planning work.  Working from two directions that leaders sensed were highly relevant (“PHA engagement” and “Health Promotion”), we tested and developed these topics/directions with the staff and held multiple conversations to refine these foci as a launching point for the strategic planning inquiry process.

Building on engagement around these directions we launched a “Core Team” to lead the strategic planning process, including clients, staff, board, community partners, and volunteers.  This core team conducted a series of interviews with a wide range of stakeholders from community to government to media to clients.  Through these interviews they inquired into perspectives on PWA at its best and hopes for PWA’s future directions, including specific exploration into the notions of PHA engagement and health promotion.  These interviews also built engagement across the system as interviewers listened deeply to multiple stakeholder perspectives, enabling them to bring these diverse ‘voices’ into ongoing strategic conversations.

A large community summit was held to integrate key learnings from inquiries-to-date, to highlight and clarify PWA’s core strengths while collectively generating a clear image of what PWA is being called to become.  Through group conversations, drawing and other creative modalities PWA’s five desired future directions, and their enablers began to crystallize.  At this stage in the process we had a clear sense of PWA’s vision, strategic directions (with accompanying draft goals), and enablers of those directions.  

To continue to build momentum, board members, an adapted core team and attendees at the Annual General Meeting + other key stakeholders have all been engaged in the refinement and celebration of the Strategic Plan.  This important work continues to be led and adapted by this highly mobilized and aligned community.


Initial Outcome

The PWA Community has expanded and been strengthened through this high engagement community-based approach to strategic planning.  They have a clear sense of their directions, focus and accountabilities going forward, with PHA engagement and Health Promotion as cornerstones to all of the work that they are undertaking (not separate initiatives as originally thought).  They have an increased sense of clarity around their core strengths that are key to enabling their future.  Significant progress has been made in enacting their vision and directions including shifts in staff roles, changing approaches to engaging volunteers, to name a few.

 Longer Term Outcome

As this work is just in its completion phase now, the longer-term results will be tracked as they unfold.  Dedicated resources and the increased strength of the PWA communities bodes well for their ability to be able to continue to reflect and plan together, adapting according to their learning and to the ever-changing context in which they are delivering their important work.  We are also now working with the organization and its community stakeholders to once again use a high engagement approach to creating a retrospective document celebrating PWA’s 25 years of service.