Eighth of the series: 
8 Strategies for Empowering your Nonprofit Board

Fans of Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, know that while it is important to be clear on our “why,” it is equally imperative for an organization to know the “how.” Most nonprofits are clear about their mission, their “why.” When articulating a vision for the future and determining how to best maximize board resources to achieve the vision, many nonprofits are stuck.

The solution we advocate is to employ a concise strategic plan that uses straightforward language to replace the typical multi-paged, five-year plan that few have read (and to which no one refers). Make your strategic plan work for you!

How is your board empowered by a well-constructed, readable plan?

Properly constructed, a strategic plan creates momentum in addition to the roadmap of how, who, what, and when to implement the organization’s vision and mission.  And when the board is a part of the vision and its plan, momentum is perpetuated throughout the year and into the future.

Clear, written expectations help to guide board members throughout their board service tenure. When nonprofit leadership provides board members with an easily understood plan, they can see where their skills and expertise will advance the mission. Additionally, sharing the strategic plan with prospective a board member assists him or her in determining whether or not he or she is a good fit with the board. See also Empower Your Board – Ensure a Successful Start.

The strategic plan helps organization leadership say “no” when necessary. A well-constructed plan provides for goals and projects that are aligned with the organization’s vision and mission. When a board member suggests a new program that is not in line with the strategic plan, leadership can use the plan to help explain why the idea is not in line with current objectives. In this way, the plan gives leadership power to focus the board’s efforts on the organization’s stated priorities.

Expectations are defined for board member participation beyond the basics that are part of the “job description.” A good strategic plan for a nonprofit organization includes board considerations for contributing to the organization. Community service opportunities and attendance for special events are examples of board member contributions that can be specified in the plan.

Board members feel appreciated when the organization’s strategic plan includes thoughtful ways of helping them to be successful throughout board service. Professional enhancement and training opportunities for board members should be incorporated in the plan. Because a diverse board includes people of many different backgrounds, professional enrichment programs and training are welcome ways add meaning to the board experience.  See also Empowering Board Members – Increase Expertise.

Does having a usable strategic plan guarantee board success? It can if you consider the board’s contributions and how to enhance board service as you are constructing your plan.

For help with strategic planning, contact us. We learn from you about your organization and discuss how we partner with you to create a customized plan crafted to deliver on your organization’s vision.