Journal of Sustainable Social Change

Conference Name

Using Culturally Based Knowledge in Social Change Strategies


The Healing Society (coded to mask) is a new and developing organization operated by a volunteer board created by Oneida Nation community members. Leaders were seeking strategic direction to build organizational capacity and sustainability for this new organization. They sought to make positive social change after a well-known community member died from an overdose. The purpose of this post-positivist, constructionist qualitative case study was to gather empirical data from the perspectives of internal and external stakeholders through a SWOT analysis. Their answers addressed: (a) the organizational strengths and weaknesses of The Healing Society to ensure short-term strength and long-term growth, and (b) the opportunities and threats impacting short-term strength and long-term growth of The Healing Society. We used a facilitated focus group exercise to gather an internal perspective from board members. A semi-structured interview process also gathered data from external stakeholders. Themes, categories, priorities, and action items were identified as critical success factors for small nonprofit social service organizations wishing to develop short- and long-term strategic plans. Many startup organizations shortchange culturally relevant planning activities that provide an opportunity for stakeholders to share perspectives, clarify expectations, set priorities, and define roles to help implement action for immediate or visible results ensuring public trust and enhancing the perception as a model service agency. Their experience may serve as a “fire” for other organizations led by and for minority populations to incorporate natural, meaningful, and relevant healing and wellness practices. First Nation communities are encouraged to identify healing practices of their ancestors to use in servicing their communities.