In this AGM season, boards and senior management teams are working hard on budgets and thinking about their organizations’ strategic plans. It is important at this time to reach out to many stakeholders and ask for input in guiding your agency toward the future, and protecting its viability and relevance.
The Carver Policy Governance Model suggests agencies think about who the moral owners of an organization really are. In for-profit organizations, the owners are most often the shareholders. In not-for-profit organizations we tend to think about funders, clients, founders, or employees as moral owners, but we seldom think about volunteers.
When you consider the attributes of moral owners in this model (people who care about the agency beyond their own or their family’s use of it, who are true believers in the mission and vision, and who constitute the pool from which future board members will be drawn), it is clear that volunteers are key moral owners. This year, when thinking about the strategic plan, ask volunteers about what projects and objectives will serve the mission best. Chances are you will get useful and thoughtful insights from some of the people who care the most.
As the fiscal year end approaches for many not-for-profit organizations, strategic planning starts to come back into focus. As we prepare for our Annual General Meetings, work to finalize the new fiscal year budget, and report our accomplishments to our stakeholders, now is a good time to step back and consider how closely those accomplishments match our best intentions and our agency's defining mission.
Organizations often find they have done a lot, but haven't been able to focus on the big challenges or keep the long-term growth and viability of the agency in mind.
Now is the time to reconsider the mission, vision and strategic plan- do they still make sense? Do our stakeholders still want and need the same things? What must we do to ensure our ongoing viability and relevance? What has changed in our sector? What will be changing? What opportunities have we been too busy to see?
Taking the time to involve all stakeholders in strategic planning now will pay off in the new fiscal year and in the years to come, in better focusing everyone's efforts. Ensuring everyone's perspectives are heard and built into the plan will go a long way to building ownership and buy-in from employees, clients and funders. Most importantly, it will help focus everyone anew on your defining mission.