As much as I harp on the need for nonprofits to have their boards engage with elements of the strategic plan, it should be no surprise that many fundraisers ask me what they should do if no strategic plan is in place.

Obviously, my first answer is always to implore them to engage in creating a strategic plan. There are certain elements a nonprofit organization can operate without. However, a strategic plan is not one of those!

Knowing that not every organization can create a strategic plan overnight, and that some of them would like a way to lead a similar strategic responsibility discussion at an upcoming board meeting, here are some strategic areas to discuss in the mean time.

Each of the following should allow every board member to remain interested and to realize just how important both the nonprofit staff and the board are. In most cases, the responsibility is clear-cut and few fall under the jurisdiction of both parties.

They are in no particular order and can be changed around for your discussion purposes.

  1. Determine the Mission of the Organization
  2. Modify the Mission of the Organization
  3. Promote the Organization to the Outside World
  4. Selecting and Hiring the CEO
  5. Evaluating the CEO
  6. Creation of a Leadership Succession Plan
  7. Creating a Strategic Plan
  8. Updating the Strategic Plan
  9. Reporting on the Progress of the Strategic Plan
  10. Creating a Budget
  11. Approving the Budget
  12. Reporting on the Progress of the Budget Throughout the Year
  13. Conducting the Annual Review of the CFO and COO
  14. Selecting and Hiring the Top Fundraiser
  15. Plan Special Events
  16. Attend Special Events
  17. Sign Off on Outside Auditors Report
  18. Create the Content of the 990 Filing
  19. Sign the 990 Filing
  20. Recruit Volunteers
  21. Create Key Operational Metrics to Track
  22. Report on Key Operational Metrics
  23. Determine HR Policies
  24. Creation of a Fundraising Plan
  25. Reporting on the Fundraising Plan’s Progress
  26. Recruit Donors and Sponsors
  27. Donor and Sponsor Retention
  28. Personally Contribute Monies
  29. Create Government Relations Policy
  30. Report on Government Relations
  31. Creation of a Disaster Communication Plan
  32. Creation of a Marketing/Communications Plan
  33. Reporting on the Progress of the Marketing/Communications Plan

The above 33 items or questions are certainly not exhaustive. However, they should provide an excellent place to begin a nonprofit strategic board discussion.

For each item, be sure to discuss if it is the responsibility of the Board or the Staff or Both.

What others can you think of? Please let me know if these suggestions sparked a great board meeting for your organization in the comments below.

Should you find any of the items listed above missing from your organization we urge you to consider the Sustainability Scorecard recently introduced by Bloomerang. Utilizing it on a regular basis will help provide ideas for the above items and more importantly many of the vital underlying details and metrics to use.

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.