Fall Planning Season

Welcome to Fall, a.k.a. planning season! If you’re like me, you’re busy mapping out the process and timeline for creating a 2020 budget and Annual Operating Plan, including setting up a year-end meeting with your Board to present your plans.

Before you find yourself in the midst of the Board meeting, this is an opportune time to step back and look at the overall effectiveness of your Board. Take some extra steps now to make sure that you come out of the meeting not only with an approved budget–but also a stronger Board.

First off, consider whether or not your Board has its eyes on the right level of detail. This is particularly important as you initiate conversations about your Annual Operating Plan. The staff develops the annual plan. The Board reviews and approves it, referencing back to the strategic plan to make sure it is in alignment. The Board’s role is to keep its eye on the long-term, making sure the organization is sustainable and taking the most strategic path forward. As you set up your Board meeting, think about how they can add value to your planning and decision-making.

Secondly, consider your Board leadership and the most effective role for them in your meeting. Do you have a strong Board Chair who can effectively facilitate your Board meeting? Does the Treasurer understand the organization’s financial position well-enough to give a solid financial report? Have a conversation now about roles in your Board meeting. And set aside time in the meeting for discussion of Board work plans, and a Board self-evaluation, where the Board can identify competencies and shortcomings.

Next, review your transition and recruitment plans for Board members. Make sure that your Board has term limits, a Board member succession plan, a diversity outreach plan, and a thoughtful orientation process. If you don’t, set aside time at your upcoming meeting to come up with action steps to resolve these deficiencies.  You can check out this article from TREC about the advantages of term limits.

Lastly, make sure that you meet deadlines in your planning process. By doing so, you can have the agenda, minutes, program updates, financials, and your budget and annual plan materials in Board members hands one to two weeks before the meeting. If you are looking for a format for the financial reports, you can find it here.

And, while you are busy setting up processes and timelines, make sure to establish the process and timeline for the annual Executive Director evaluation too.

Taking these steps now, while you still have some runway before the meeting, will really help you to maximize your time together, and minimize everyone’s frustration. The result is not only a productive meeting—but, also a healthy long-term relationship with your Board.

Megan Seibel
TREC Executive Director

Background Image: American Rivers | Scott Bosse

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