Find Focus

I encourage you to find focus with a strategic meeting agenda. (This is a great opportunity as we consider what meetings and events will be like in a non-quarantined world.) All too often meetings include too many issues or discussion topics. Strategic meetings feel valuable. They encourage all voices to be heard. Strategic meetings can be in-person, virtual, or by phone.

I urge you to consider your last nonprofit board or staff meeting. Did you give time to connect to the mission of why you had gathered? Did you have enough time to meaningfully explore the issue(s) at hand? If you answered yes to both – congrats!! If not, consider these tips.

Strategic Meeting Agenda Tips:

  1. First, give time to start your meeting with a reminder of why you gathered. Bonus points for a reminder that can also help build trust for the group, strengthen connection, or provide a moment for self-care. Find focus for the meeting and build shared understanding at the start of the conversation.
  2. Next, make sure you budget the right amount of time for the meeting (whether virtual or in person) and provide information in advance for preparation. Not enough time encourages rushed decisions and discourages thoughtful discussion while meetings that ask for more time than they need fail to recognize the value of each member’s work time. (And don’t forget that Zoom fatigue is real and break time is more important than ever in 2021.)
  3. Don’t forget to revisit your strategic goals, meeting focus and expectations throughout the conversation. Use a parking lot for follow up items and resist the temptation to add one more thing.
  4. Finally, develop an agenda template for groups that meet regularly including your mission, priorities, and other key information. These serve as helpful reminders for important decisions and explorations of exciting opportunities – does the opportunity help advance our priorities? what decision best aligns to our mission?

I’d love to help you build a strategic meeting agenda template to find focus for your meetings. Please just drop a note or schedule a free 15 minute phone chat here. Let’s explore finding more focus on progress!

Embedding Strategy to Realize Your Vision

Embedding strategy to realize your VISION can get the strategic plan off the shelf and into practice.

(Sorry to miss February! But I am happy to report my personal COVID-19 experience was mild, and I’m back with a new tool to share! Hopefully you mapped your calendar with intention in January. Or you can find the Calendar Mapping Board Checklist here if you would still like to explore.)

Pausing to define a strategic plan is not effective. In reality opportunities and challenges arise at a nonprofit each week. Community resources and needs shift on their own rhythm. To address this practical reality, I have developed a unique approach: Embedded Strategy Organizations. You can learn more here, but briefly these organizations maintain focus on strategic priorities within ongoing operations and activities. Each choice is a step toward the vision of the organization.

I encourage you to reflect on your own organization. I offer this worksheet to explore the ten elements I have identified as part of the Embedded Strategy Model. This is a great tool to guide board conversation to monitor your strategic plan, to help identify clear priorities, and confirm your vision for the future. I hope this worksheet might spark a useful conversation at your next meeting. Need help? Please just drop a note or schedule a free 15 minute phone chat here.

Next up: how to make meetings meaningful. Here’s a hint and a sneak peek, ask yourself if you could have achieved the work of the meeting with three or less emails… the answer might surprise you!

Here’s to embedding strategy, realizing your VISION and focus on progress.

Best, Kate

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Planning to Start the New Year

In 2021, each month I will share a new offering or free resource based on a different theme. I look forward to bringing you tools that can support planning, successful transitions, and board recruitment just to name a few. I hope this information can help guide conversations for calendar mapping with INTENTION to bring focus on progress.

Support for Early Childhood Well-being

Back to School, change of seasons and continued COVID disruption oh my! They all present quite an opportunity to prioritize what matters most. Most importantly, I am grateful for the last two years and proud of my small role in this amazing project, LAUNCH Together Southwest Denver. It has been an amazing opportunity to provide capacity building to support early childhood wellbeing in Southwest Denver. Specifically, we work to enhance social emotional supports to young children, families, caregivers and other professionals within the community. Early childhood mental health and community centered solutions are the cornerstones of our work. Amazing community partners have led this collaborative to build on their existing programs. For example, capacity building to support early childhood wellbeing includes great parent resources and tools for providers. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks as the project comes to a close at the end of 2020. Click here to see a great recent profile of our work. After that, please get in touch if you would like to find out more!!

Strategic Priorities Guide Strategic Recruiting

Strategic board recruiting is more than inviting folks to join the board. Impactful board development is possible when you align your board recruiting plan to your strategic priorities. Building a well functioning board is a key board responsibility, but often a challenge. Alignment of recruiting strategic with strategic priorities can help! But this requires that your strategic priorities are well known and understood. It also requires leadership to explore current board composition and identify critical needs.

For example, if events play a significant role in your fundraising efforts including event planning expertise on the board as well as fundraising and event committees can enhance decision making and oversight in this area. Or if your organization seeks to expand programming to serve a new geographical region, your board should include representatives from the community to lend their perspectives to decision making.

If the board does not include representatives with the skills and connections relative to each of your strategic priorities, I urge you to consider developing board recruiting strategies to connect, engage, and invite these perspectives to join the board. And if your organizational strategic priorities are unknown, I encourage you to set aside time to develop them.

Resources to Develop Your Strategic Board Recruiting Plan

The Nonprofit Governance Guidebook, Chapter 1: Strategic Board Recruiting offers detailed information on how to build a strategic board recruiting plan. The materials include worksheets to frame strategic decision making for your board, a video to prompt discussion and decision making, and a complete reference workbook including critical elements and practical steps to build your own strategic board recruiting plan.

You might want to discuss your board recruiting plan at your next Executive or Governance Committee meeting. Perhaps the whole board is ready to explore enhancing board recruiting. Have questions and want to explore strategic board recruiting more in depth – please reach out! I’m happy to offer free 20 minute phone chats to discuss and help identify the best approach to meet your goals.

New Year Strategic Priority Check Up

Welcome to 2018!! As I spend my first day of 2018 setting my own strategic intentions for the year ahead, I wanted to pause to offer a strategy check up and offer thoughts on making the most of the new year.

Strategic Priority Check Up

Does your organization have a current set of strategic priorities to guide decision making? If yes, are they well known by your engaged stakeholders? Did your last board meeting reflect your strategic priorities? Does current board recruitment support at least one strategic priority?

Your Results

Congrats if you answered yes!! Progress with your strategic priorities yields success for your community! Keep up the great work and continue to explore how to achieve more progress on your goals.

If you aren’t sure or haven’t been able to make it happen, I’d love to connect and explore supporting your work to get to yes. You also might want to check out my planning offerings to help your organization define their strategic priorities. Drop me a line and let’s chat.

Here’s to a year of impact, action and progress for everyone – individuals, organizations, and communities!!

Connecting Intention and Action

Over the last few weeks it has been inspiring to see all the action taken around the globe in response to community need. Clear intention in action. In crisis clear needs triggers specific action. It might be the need for food and water. Simple connected action – provide food and water. It might be unsafe conditions from flood, mold or other dangers where added protections can be provided to mitigate risk.

But at a time when significant needs face our community organizations, the specific action to address the issue or challenge might not be so clear. Rising costs do not necessarily correlate to the need to increase income. Ways to control costs while preserving the quality of programs and services might be available. Low attendance at community events might not be related to opportunities to spread the word or promote the event. Attendance may be a reflection of community perception or support.

This week I urge you to consider the specific goals and intentions in your current work. Perhaps you seek to grow the reach of a community education program by recruiting new attendees from a broader community. Perhaps you seek to increase the understanding of your financial model for all members of the board (does everyone know the size of the budget, the sources of income and areas of expense). Or perhaps you seek to increase the diversity of your board to include a broader spectrum of perspectives.

Now dig deep. Get curious. Ask why and why again. Seek to connect the most meaningful and impactful action to achieve your goals. And if you are seeking to make change in an area, I encourage you to consider opportunities to try different strategies. Comfort is nice, but achieving goals is awesome. Look to best practice to understand opportunities for growth.

Need a little help exploring an issue or finding the right questions to explore connecting intention and action. Curious if Embedded Strategy might help enhance your work. I’d love to help – please reach out.

Learn, Leverage, Lead

Sit back and think about your last board meeting. Maybe you can remember the agenda items, perhaps you explored a significant issue facing your organization, and possibly you discussed a pressing question for your nonprofit.

Was the meeting engaging for those in the room? Was it well attended? Did each board member feel prepared for the discussion and decision making? Were folks comfortable speaking up, asking questions, sharing unpopular points of view, providing a critical eye?

Board meetings should reflect the mission, culture and priorities of your nonprofit organization. They should focus on strategic priorities and cultivate meaningful participation from a diverse leadership group.

Each board meeting provides an opportunity to learn, leverage and lead. If you’d like to explore how to strengthen your own meeting practices, please connect with me.

Food for Thought

December is a time to celebrate and reflect. This great article from Nonprofit Quarterly poses important questions for all nonprofit boards to consider.