There are many gifted facilitators that specialize in guiding a nonprofit boards through the process of strategic planning. For a foundation going through its first planning process, using one of these resources will meet their needs and get the job done. But what should a foundation do if over the course of years it has worked through this process, maybe even worked through an updated plan, and needs a jump start?
Yeager and Associates stands ready to "raise the bar" in helping foundation leadership to re-imagine expectations of foundation performance and community impact. We will bring a depth of expertise to the table to illuminate current practices, stimulate discussion, and to assist a board in discerning a path ahead.
The Fine Line: Challenging vs. Overwhelming a Board
One danger in strategic planning is that persons of vision get carried away by enthusiasm and over-reach.
- Equally dangerous is a planning process that is all form and no function: full of platitudes yet vague.
- The trick is to temper vision with experience and an awareness of operational and resource realities.
- But how to educate a process without overwhelming the Board in detail?
The methodology used within Yeager and Associates to break this deadlock introduces an element between a Board kickoff and brainstormeing session and the final prioritization of foundation goals. Drawing on past planning documents and the brainstorming notes from the board, the task of managing the details is delegated to a very small group (select board members and the CEO). Results of this group's work can then be filtered for presentation to the full board (with full transparency of underlying documents). This process will minimize the uncertainty from the board level discussion and allow it to debate issues of substance (rather than conjecture).
- The planning task force will begin its work by identifying the questions that need to be answered in order for the foundation to make sound decisions about its future.
- Answering those questions will draw on both consultant and staff resources, with some requiring research and needs assessment.
- Whenever possible, cost/ benefit and/or financial analysis will be part of the answers provided.
- The task force will triage the list of issues under consideration, and draft goals for the board
What does such a process do? It allows the foundation to focus on the important things (that it may well avoid without some help):
- How does a foundation envision its role within its community?
- What are its programmatic points of emphasis?
- What are its financial goals?
- How does it fit in its particular philanthropic landscape?
The strategic planning engagement will create/ update a strategic plan, and optionally can also create an operational plan based on this document. Further, it will provide a control framework for monitoring its success.
For an introduction to services offered by Yeager and Associates, see http://www.dougyeager.com/joomla/services.html