By Gary DePaul, CPT, PhD

This is Part 1 of a series to help chapters prepare for the upcoming year.

Overview
One way to avoid being in problem-solving mode throughout the year is by spending more up-front time planning and even orchestrating how your board and committees serve members, sponsors, and your professional guests. To accomplish this, chapters have annual one-day planning meetings in which the president invites the board, committee members, sponsoring organizations, and interested members to partake in critical discussions to revisit the vision and mission; conduct high-level analyses; and design goals and tactics for communications, finance, membership, programming, and public relations.

Part 1 focuses on planning the strategy meeting.

Planning Your Strategy Meeting

Select a location accessible by attendees (although more challenging but doable if your board is virtual). This usually is an all-day event that includes a working lunch (and possibly a working dinner) to prepare the board, committees, and even sponsoring organizations for the upcoming year. For this to be successful, attendance and maximizing everyone’s time are critical.
To start, work with a few people to create the agenda and select the date. Usually, a Saturday works best, and you should schedule this two to three months in advance. Clarify roles and consider any pre-work to help with analyses of the current state. Presidents should talk with individual board members about expectations and how the board member can contribute to the meeting and maximize everyone’s return.

Agenda Template

See a strategy planning agenda template for an example of how to organize the meeting.

Topic Suggestions

Possible discussion topics are:

  • Health of the board (including succession opportunities)
  • Potential risks and how to mitigate (example: risk of board burnout and mitigate by decreasing programs from 12 to six or improve division of labor)
  • Clarification on what a successful year would be and the metrics to be measured so that you can determine if you achieve success (also assign who tracks and reports on metrics)
  • Outreach to universities, sponsoring organizations, or other associations
  • Strategy for expanding and sustaining memberships
  • Financial budget
  • Practicing stewardship beyond programming
  • Development plans for board members
  • New operational tasks needed to achieve the strategic plan: assign roles, responsibilities, and timeline for each task

Final Thoughts

By having a well-planned session, your chapter will be more likely to be successful than continuing without from the previous year. In October, I will discuss more specifics about planning for finance, membership, and marketing.