Starting in 2014, the Executive Director and Board of Directors adopted a new process for strategy and budget setting.  During August and September the Executive Director developed a draft multi-year strategy and complimentary budget.  In October, the Board held two budget workshops where they discussed and edited the presented draft strategy and eventually voted on and accepted a comprehensive multi-year strategy and supporting budget.  For 2015 through 2017 the Board adopted this seven (7) point strategic plan that includes these points:

  • Every SAR Responder A Member – Build Membership Growth
  • One Place For Everyone – Create And Engage The SAR Community (Virtually And Physically)
  • This Is A Volunteer Career Not A Hobby – Develop A Professional Environment
  • Members Deserve The Best – Increase Quality Education / Certification Offerings
  • Every Dollar Counts – Develop Efficient Virtual Infrastructure
  • We Need To Be Here Forever – Increase Financial Stability
  • The Future Is Built On Today – Lay The Foundation For NASAR 2.0 / The Next 10 Years (More Than A Vision – A Strategic Path)

These 7 focused points have expanded initiatives attached to each of them.  In the upcoming series of blogs I will be speaking to some of the initiatives we have already accomplished, and what we are currently working on for the next 12 to 18 months.  Let’s start with Strategy #1.


This strategy sounds pretty self-explanatory, but there is a lot to talk about.  In order for NASAR to survive, membership growth is essential, and for us to succeed in increasing the professionalism of SAR in the world, we need to expand the SAR responders using our materials.  To do this we have identified three major initiatives:

  • Incentive Members
  • Show Up And Sell / Recruit / Present At Conferences
  • Build Programs To Increase Value To Members

Incentive Members

To develop incentive for SAR Responders to join NASAR and to increase the retention of current members we are giving members preferred pricing for everything that we can.  This includes freezing bookstore prices and course/examination prices for members this year (2015).  Many non-member prices increased as much as 10% this past January to help defray the higher cost of doing business.  We also added a discounted Student and Veteran membership class to increase our penetration of those demographics, and make it easier for them to become members.

We added a number of benefits since January for members.  All NASAR members now get the NASAR certification fee for the SARTECH I exam (a $70 value) waived.  We hope that this makes obtaining the SARTECH I Certificate more obtainable for members.  Members that have leveled up to Life Membership now get all their SARTECH Certificate fees waived (a $210 value), and recertification fees (a $30 value) waived.  We hope that this encourages more SAR Responders that see this as a volunteer professional career and not a hobby to increase their membership level.  We also recently rolled out our new website, and it has a members only set of content.  The public gets to see a lot, but members get to see more once they log in.

The future includes the development of a special life member rocker for your uniform and a challenge coin.  We are also working on ways to increase the availability of discounted or free certifications for members of all classes.

Show Up And Sell / Recruit / Present At Conferences

The conference model we have been using for the past 10 years not longer works for NASAR.  The conferences were extremely expensive to put on and attend, and only reached a small portion of our membership.  Our new “conference” model is to attend, support and sponsor more regional conferences, exercises, trainings and meetings (at least 23 are scheduled this year).  Instead of reaching 200 SAR Responders at a single conference, we are going to be able to reach over 2300 responders at a much cheaper cost.  When we attend these regional events we are doing what we can to support the local team by providing sponsorship, vendor contacts, instructors and lead evaluators.  We also provide either the Executive Director (me), a Board Member or other senior NASAR member to provide a keynote or presentation on what NASAR is up to and to answer your questions.  Here is a list of the events where we are reaching out and where we hope to see you:

  • Jan 20 – 21:  California SAR Coordinators Meeting (CA)
  • Jan 22 – 24:  National Sheriffs Association Winter Conference (Washington D.C.)
  • Feb 8 – 10:  Wilderness Education Association (OK)
  • Feb 9-12:  International Disaster Conference and Expo (LA)
  • Mar 13 – 15:  Arkansas Regional Field Exercise (AR)
  • March 25 – 26:  NSARC meeting (Washington D.C.)
  • Apr 17 – 19:  ESCAPE 2015 (NM)
  • Apr 17 – 19:  VA SAR Conference (VA)
  • Apr 21 – 22:  California SAR Coordinators Meeting (CA)
  • Apr 30 – May 3:  PA SAR-EX (PA)
  • May 1 – 3:  Arizona SAR Conference (AZ)
  • May 11 – 15:  VOAD National Conference (LA)
  • May 15 – 17:  Washington State Conference (WA)
  • June 26 – July 1:  National Sheriffs Association (MD)
  • June 4 – 7:  SARCON (Estes Park, CO)
  • Sept 11 – 13:  SAREX (CA)
  • Sept 15 – 17:  National Conference on Responding to Missing and Unidentified Missing Persons (GA)
  • Sept 17 – 20:  Montana SAR Rendezvous (MT)
  • Oct:  SAR City (CA)
  • Oct 14 – 16:  Wilderness Risk Management Conference (OR)
  • Nov 5 – 8:  Ski and Mountain Trauma Conference (ID)
  • Oct 21 – 26:  SARScene (Canada)

Each year we will look at the overall conference and event picture and select 20 or so events to sponsor and attend.  Let us know if your event would be a good opportunity for us to partner with you.

You will see a SARCON for 2015 and may still see a SARCON in follow on years, since we will still help a regional team use the name to put on a national level conference.  We just won’t be the primary financial backer or organizer for it.

For the future we are beginning a program of diversity building within the SAR industry.  In addition to the partnerships we currently have, we are reaching out to develop new partnerships or enhance current agreements with the Girl Scouts of America, Civil Air Patrol, Boy Scouts of America, CERT teams, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), National Ski Patrol, and SARVAC.

Build Programs To Increase Value To Members

This year we will be building a taskforce to reach out to the membership and research what benefits you value and want from NASAR.  We want to provide a diverse and valuable set of benefits to retain current members and entice new members to join.

For the future we are looking at the possible development of a team level accreditation program.

Wrap Up

You can see from this one strategic initiative we have a lot going on.  There are six more initiatives in addition to this one that we are working on at warp speed.  It has taken a lot of effort to put this plan together, and a lot of energy will be expended to accomplish everything on it.  I think it is important for all the membership to hear what is happening at NASAR and why we are doing it.  I will provide a similar discussion about the other six initiatives each week for the next six weeks.  I hope these articles help you understand where we are heading and how you can help us all get there together.

Thanks for being a member and holding on for the past year while we developed a strong foundation for NASAR to succeed.  I appreciate your patience, and if you have any questions please feel free to call me or contact me at

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