Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, a hot worried mess; with too much on your mind and the sudden realization that you have forgotten something significant? Have you ever tried to prove that you are implementing the policies that you have written? Do you wonder how to keep so many balls in the air at one time? A simple annual plan may be the solution. It’s like a map for the year that keeps you from getting lost.
Think of your strategic plan as your visionary guide and your annual plan as your day to day detail. Your annual plan is an easy to follow guide for the priorities for your time and attention throughout the year. Once you decide when each task is to be tackled, you can write it down and forget it. A monthly check in of key items will keep you on track. Best of all, for boards and executive directors, a good annual plan makes planning the board agenda and report a breeze.
Many annual planning items are the same every year such as:
- The timing of your financial cycles;
- Policy review and compliance reporting;
- Volunteer and/or staff performance reviews;
- Weeks and dates of significance to your sector.
A planning calendar is a simple but effective tool. You may choose to have one calendar to encompass everything you do, or several to sort activities by committee or department. I prefer to have a board reporting calendar a calendar for each board committee and an ‘other’ calendar.
You can make calendars doubly effective by sharing them with the board and committees. This lets members know when to expect information and helps to keep everyone on topic.
Let’s look at a Board Reporting Calendar. For each item, make note of what is going to be reported and why you have put that item on the list. Here’s what you should include:
- Timing for board processes including recruitment of new directors, annual general meeting; board evaluations; ED evaluation (if applicable);
- Annual or bi-annual updates on board oversight issues such as occupational health and safety, government remittances;
- Reports on compliance with any policies requiring some type of regular reporting to the board of directors;
- Reports on milestones related to the agency strategic plan;
- Any other item for which the board has requested periodic updates.
Now imagine how much easier it will be each month when you begin set meeting agendas. A little effort in the short term will have massive payoffs in the long run; and maybe even let you have a good night’s sleep.
Sandra Dunham is the sole-proprietor of Streamline New Perspective Solutions
Streamline New Perspective Solutions offers management consulting services for non-profit organizations. Please visit www.streamlinenps.ca