What are the right strategies for organizational planning and for monitoring programs and services in a nonprofit organization? In this series of articles covering the 10 basic responsibilities of nonprofit boards, we are sharing tips and advice that help board members implement best practices for the organization. Today’s topics are focused on ensuring effective planning and monitoring/strengthening programs and services.

Ensuring Effective Nonprofit Planning

Planning, whether short-term or long-range, is an important and essential part of designing and implementing strategies within a nonprofit organization. Any time significant planning is required, it is important that board members become involved extensively in the entire process.

Whenever comprehensive planning is needed, not only do board members need to participate, but they should also be enthusiastic about implementing priorities and goals. This will inspire the team to work together to tap into new resources and gain the traction required to support the ongoing needs of the organization. The resulting goals will typically be used to guide future priorities and budgeting.

One important guideline is to ensure the board maintains its focus on the big picture, which means planning must be based on the higher order levels of strategy and policy—not the details. This planning process should not get caught up with the smaller details that should be worked out in the program applications. Finally, the board must assess the merits of the planning process and its results to ensure they are implemented across the organization instead of being left on a shelf.

Monitoring and Strengthening Programs and Services

Decisions from the planning phases should be recorded, including the implementation and ongoing progress as these programs move forward. Proposed programs and services should always align with the stated mission of the nonprofit. The effectiveness of these programs and services can be evaluated by focusing on the results of signature activities and their impact.

Guard against “sacred cows,” services, programs, events or publications that are defended by a staff or board member but fall out as the least consequential to the nonprofit’s mission. It is essential to maintain a high standard that ensures all activities align with the organization’s overarching goals.

Nonprofit Training and Recommendations

At Mirenda & Associates we are experienced in nonprofit training and organizational design. If you need support in building the systems and leadership support for your nonprofit, then we invite you to contact our team to learn more about our available services.