A strategic plan helps Terra FM succeed

| November 25, 2022

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Lake Albert is the second largest of Uganda’s great lakes, and uniting the shores of this large body of water is Terra FM, a non-profit radio station broadcasting to communities in both Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Robert Agenonga is the Director of International Expansion at Terra FM. In 2019, Mr. Agenonga joined the Terra FM team to offer his skills in public speaking and the design of the quickly developing radio station. Key to growing the reach of this radio station is a strategic plan. 

Terra FM’s strategic plan is a 22-page document that states their mandate, provides context, and lists their goals. Their main goal is to provide environmental activists and educators with a platform to share valuable information on topics like food sovereignty, environmental security, climate change, and violence against farming communities. 

When evaluating their progress towards this goal, the team at Terra FM can revisit and analyze the plan. 

A strategic plan also helps with fundraising for the station. Being a newer radio station, Terra FM relies on donations and membership contributions to cover costs. When looking to raise funds, the plan is shared with potential contributors to tell the station’s story and to increase the station’s legitimacy.

Mr. Agenonga’s passion for justice and empowering the general community through disseminating information is part of the reason why he joined this team. Proudly, he says, “Where there is no plan, things usually fail.”

From start to finish, the strategic plan took approximately 9 months to complete. The team at Terra FM thought of hiring consultants to help develop the document, but this approach was unsuccessful for many reasons. First, the consultants were outside of the Terra FM budget. Secondly, consultants often use technical jargon that can be difficult for the community to understand. 

The team at Terra FM realized they were the subject-matter experts in this situation and decided to collaborate with the community and other professionals in an attempt to create a financially intelligent strategic plan. 

As part of this process, Mr. Agenonga and the team arranged meetings, collected data, and facilitated travel for those collecting data. There were many focus group discussions between the team at the radio station and other members of the community. In the end, these efforts cost about $1,000 USD but it proved to be beneficial as Mr. Agenonga explains: “We are happy because we did it ourselves—we became the consultants for our own work.”

Following the implementation of the strategic plan, he has noticed improvements in the station’s programming, including more interactive programming. Some programs now have audience members calling in, while others send letters, and many recommend the channel to their friends and family.

Before beginning a strategic plan, Mr. Agenonga believes radio stations should ask themselves what they aim to achieve as an organization. In their case, Terra FM aims to provide hope and protect the interests of thousands of rural people and their environment. Today the strategic plan is not only evidence of their goals, but also a roadmap to achieving them.

Photo: Team members at Terra FM discussing the strategic plan.