Most members of nonprofit boards know that their organization needs a strategic plan—a plan that is current and truly guides the work. However, knowing that a plan is needed and actually engaging in the planning process are two different things. Volunteer board members can usually find a number of reasons to avoid embarking on strategic planning, but we think the following are compelling reasons for moving ahead:
- Gain a shared understanding of the organization’s priorities and what role you can play in moving the work forward.
- Engage in the right discussions and the right work at the right level—you can expect meaningful work to come out of the planning process.
- Be able to articulate where the organization is heading and how it plans to get there—maybe you’ll finally get that “elevator speech” you’ve wanted!
- Bring focus to your board meetings. The strategic planning process will generate important questions with which your board will need to grapple.
- Get the board on the same page regarding direction and priorities, and build the board’s sense of teamwork along the way.
- The plan can be used to guide and increase the effectiveness of your committee structure, board recruitment, budget development, and even the evaluation process for your president or CEO.
- A chance to tackle some of those nagging, “elephant in the room” issues that never seem to get addressed. This will be the moment to discuss them and make decisions.
- If you structure the process to seek their input, this can be a great opportunity to hear from clients, donors, staff and other stakeholders—input that boards need but are challenged to collect under normal circumstances.