Ode to the clairvoyant board

No one expects nonprofit board members to predict the future, but planning is a vital part of their job.

A strategic planning session focused on the board in the next five years can be incorporated into a board meeting or a board retreat, according to Gene Hayes III, president of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Bruce Flessner of Bentz Whaley Flessner in Minneapolis, Minn.

During their session, “Facilitating Success: Staffing and Motivating Development Volunteers,” at the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s 46th annual international conference, Flessner and Hayes suggested some questions that can help to shape the discussion:

  • What changes/additions do we want to see in membership?
  • What initiatives should the board focus on?
  • How will our giving expectations change?
  • How can the board better support the institutional strategic plan?

Conducting an in-depth survey of your charity’s board members also can help you get answers about the future of your organization.

Focus on satisfaction, staff facilitation, interests and engagement during these surveys, according to Hayes and Flessner. Aggregated results of your surveys should be strategically reviewed by the organization’s leadership and the board as a whole. Individual responses, however, should be kept confidential so as to encourage feedback from board members.