Strategic Plan: 2016-2020 – Ascent to 8000

Sprint Tracking & Management

To get more detail on the progress of our Ascent to 8000 projects, please refer to the tracking document we use internally to manage the program.


About Angel Flight West
Angel Flight West delivers health and hope using donated flights to serve those with healthcare or other compelling human needs. In the air, Angel Flight West links volunteer pilots and commercial airlines with people whose non-emergency health needs require air transportation to access care. On the ground, volunteer drivers ferry passengers to and from their departure and destination airports.

Our programs serve the 13 Western states, including Alaska and Hawai’i. The costs of all flights are donated. There is never a charge for an Angel Flight West mission.

When weather, routing or other conditions keep our pilots on the ground, we do our best to arrange alternate transportation, such as flights donated by Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, or by purchasing tickets through our Passenger Assistance Fund.

In addition to medical flights, we arrange transportation for other humanitarian purposes, such as injured military personnel taking part in therapeutic programs offered by the Wounded Warrior Project and other veterans’ organizations, and individuals and families escaping domestic violence. Because not all healing takes place in the hospital, Angel Flight West also serves as the “official airline” for a number of children’s special needs camps attended by youngsters and teens.

In 1983, our first year of service, a dozen pilots from Santa Monica Airport flew 15 missions for people to travel to medical care.  Today we haves more than 1,800 pilots and last year they flew 3,165 missions. Our airline partners donated another 930 commercial tickets.

Defining the Need
In its comprehensive National Needs Assessment Report, Health Outreach Partners reveals that when it comes to barriers that prevent people from accessing health care, transportation is second only to cost. Angel Flight West bridges the gap between home and health. Since that first Angel Flight West went wheels up, AFW has successfully completed nearly 70,000 missions that comprise more than 380,000 hours and 18 million miles flown – the equivalent of $55 million in flight costs donated by AFW’s volunteer pilots and commercial airline partners.

But we can do more. According to our health care partners at UCLA Medical Center and Ronald McDonald Houses, Angel Flight West is only serving 5-10% of patients who could use our services.

While Angel Flight West has had remarkable success in engaging new volunteer pilots, for the past 10 years, our annual mission volume has remained steady, at 4,000 flights and 1,300 passengers (+/-10%).

We have the resources to perform more flights, but requests for flights are not growing with the need. The strategies that worked so well in recruiting pilots have not been as successful in reaching patients, doctors, and case managers. Additionally, there is a lack of awareness and/or understanding of our services and capabilities to serve those in need of non-emergency health care.

Strategic Plan Overview
During this five-year period, development of Angel Flight West’s planning strategies will complement and be coordinated with our Ascent to 8000 Initiative,

Launched in January 2016, the growth and capacity building initiative is funded through a $300,000 challenge grant from Bill Ayer, an AFW volunteer pilot and former CEO of Alaska Airlines. AFW has raised $245,000 in matching funds.

The goal of the Ascent to 8000 Initiative — and of the Angel Flight West organization — is to double our mission volume by the close 2020.

The roadmap for growth starts with improving our infrastructure and more efficiently utilizing our volunteer pilot and commercial airline partner resources, while making it easier for passengers to request services and our pilots to service them. Then, we will accelerate and enhance our outreach efforts and strategic partnerships to ensure patients, social workers, and partner facilities are aware of our services and make the best use of our free flights.

Infrastructure Improvements
These are being performed in “sprints,” giving us the ability to succeed or fail quickly, and adjust as necessary. They include simplifying the process of requesting a mission, making it easier for patients and health care professionals; and implementing a system in our Angel Flight Information Database System (AFIDS) that will allow us to track the effectiveness of our outreach efforts.

We expect to complete 20 sprints in the first year. These will include: are these done?

  • Synchronizing the Angel Flight Information Database System (AFIDS) with Salesforce, the leading customer relationship management (CRM) software available. This will allow us to measure our current outreach efforts and determine what methods are effective and what methods are ineffective. We can accelerate the efforts that are working and discard methods that are not. Additionally, it will allow us to measure the success of our new outreach efforts so we can quickly establish when/if our new growth initiatives (sprints) are working.
  • Adding an online medical release capability to AFIDS, making it easier for healthcare professionals to request our services for their patients.
  • Training frequent requesters to use AFIDS and give them access, enabling them to request flights without calling the AFW offices
  • Building and customizing Salesforce as a customer resource management tool to enable us to do the above measurements and measure outcomes.
  • Modifying and standardizing our intake procedures to streamline and better measure calls and referrals, making it easier for patients and providers to request and use our services

Enhanced Outreach
With the capability to measure outreach effectiveness in place, we’ll focus on outreach strategies.

We’ll continue to exhibit at health care and social work conferences, and give in-service presentations, but now we’ll be able to determine whether these activities are productive.

And we’ll add new strategies:

  • Collaborations with patient support groups
  • Collaborations with telemedicine providers
  • Social media campaign
  • Partnerships with like-minded organizations such as Ronald McDonald Houses, Make A Wish Foundation, and Children’s Miracle Flights
  • Presenting webinars for health care professionals
  • Offering continuing medical education (CME) coursework for social workers

In each case, with the infrastructure improvements, we’ll be able to track and measure how well each strategy works.

Priorities for 2017 include:

  • Testing new approaches to outreach
  • Explore ways to leverage our limited success with webinars
  • Expand outreach to patients/passengers, not just health care professionals
  • Identify and remove barriers that might keep individuals from using our services
  • Improve the continuum of services, i.e., ground transportation, reliability, more service options, to become the “first call” for our passenger/requester customers
  • Improve utilization of current volunteers through improved communication and approaches that spur more engagement.
  • Explore ways of bringing other resources to bear, like Part 135 operators.
  • Employ Zendesk to achieve more efficient mission coordination.
  • Continue to develop Salesforce as a tool for outreach by building CRM workflow and connecting data to AFIDS.

Activities under consideration in subsequent years include:

  • Consolidating the AFIDS dashboard for reporting on the full outreach funnel supply so we’ll have the measurements in place to understand how people are finding out about us, how to reach people who aren’t finding out about us, and what methods of outreach are most effective.
  • Online/printed transportation resource guide for lead generation
  • Creation of regional chapters with part-time paid AFW staff, along with volunteers, to perform outreach
  • Cause marketing
  • Contracting with PR and narketing firms to increase our visibility
  • Collaborating, merging, or creating partnerships with like-minded volunteer pilot organizations that serve similar causes with donated flights
  • Better utilization of pilot, charter, and commercial airline resources. Specifically, creating regular routes and times for high demand flights to provide better reliability for patients and case managers.

Anticipated Outcomes
We project that requests for AFW services will rise by 10% in 2016 and mission volume will increase to 4,730 completed flights serving 1,500 passengers.

Our strategies in the subsequent four years (2017-2020) will be determined by the success — or failure — of our activities in 2016.  In years 2-5, we expect the following growth:

  Year   Increase in requests   Annual missions   Passengers Served Annually
  2017   11%   5,250   1,500
  2018   13%   5,932   1,700
  2019   16%   6,882   2,000
  2020   18%   8,000   2,500

To make growth sustainable, we’ve developed a three-phase sustainability plan.

  • The first phase includes incrementally increasing our existing fundraising efforts, such as our annual campaign, crowd-funding projects, and foundation grants.
  • The second phase includes pursuing new sources of revenue, including third party fundraising partnerships with corporations, partner organizations, and volunteers.
  • The third phase entails encouraging our long-time, founding, and other members to contribute to a legacy fund that will generate investment revenue through reserves to help offset operations costs. This will ensure that the legacy of Angel Flight West is carried well into the future.