One of the board’s primary responsibilities is to set direction for the organization through strategic planning.
A strategic plan or framework serves as a roadmap and as a tool for assessing progress. Working side-by-side with staff leadership, your board should play an active and substantive role in developing, approving, and supporting your organization’s strategic planning.
The nature of strategic planning is changing, however, in response to the turbulence caused by the most recent recession and the challenge of planning in a constantly changing environment. At the same time, some nonprofit leaders have found that planning in a dynamic environment presents an opportunity to think differently. As you clarify your organization’s strategic priorities, you may find that they are best accomplished in partnership with others.
BoardSource has also seen a shift away from traditional strategic plans based on three- to five-year time horizons and long planning processes to strategic frameworks that articulate organizational priorities, to business plans that combine programmatic and operational goals with financial forecasts, and to more robust annual plans with clear metrics and timelines. What is most important is that strategic planning be done and that the framework or plan reflects a shared board and staff vision of the organization’s role, values, and priorities.
The following resources are designed to help boards improve their performance in the area of strategic planning. According to Leading with Intent, strategic planning remains among the top areas in need of board improvement.
Guides, Tools, Templates, and Infographics
6 Characteristics of Effective Boards
5 Phases of Strategic Planning
Nonprofit Organizational Lifecycle Assessment Tool