Nonprofit Strategic Planning Requires Honesty & Openness

Nonprofit board strategic planning

Nonprofit strategic planning requires leaving egos at the door.

A nonprofit organization retained me to do a strategic plan for a free medical clinic. The board directors had never all met each other. This board only met once or twice a year so if someone could not attend, they would not know the other board members. This nonprofit plus community stakeholders met over two weekends. After the first weekend, it was clear that there were many personal agendas, none of them agreeing.

At the beginning of the second weekend, I put a garbage pail outside the door with a sign that said, “Park Your Ego Here”. They all laughed but they did it. The incredible openness and honesty of that second meeting resulted in the board realizing that there were two diametrically opposed philosophies for delivery of their services.

The net result was that the organization split into two separate nonprofits. There were no hard feelings, just a decision that each group could fully focus on the mission that each identified. After fifteen years, both free clinics are very, very successful. It took a lot of courage for these people to do this. It took them parking their egos at the door.  The same thing applies to board meetings whether it is a for profit or nonprofit organization.  You are there to serve the organization, not promote your personal agenda.  Sometimes that can be more challenging than most people realize.  Having a strong facilitator can make all the difference in helping nonprofit and/or for profit boards work at maximum productivity.

There’s no place for personal egos and agendas when you are serving the mission of a nonprofit. For more information to how to navigate nonprofit governance as a board director, please take a look at my book, Volunteering for the GENIUS