TSB 008: 2023 Nonprofit Goal Setting In One Board Meeting

October 7, 2022

Read Time: 2 minutes

This week's tip: Goal Setting With Your Nonprofit Board Can Be Efficient and Productive!

It's fall and you're settling into the fourth quarter. The final fundraising push for the year is gaining momentum, but 2023 is around the corner.
This means you, the Executive Director, need to put plans in place for your 2023 goals related to strategy, organizational culture, fundraising, marketing, client service, and financial management.
But you don't have a lot of time.
You could schedule a half-day retreat, hire a facilitator, and dig in. Or you can use what I call the S.I.N.G. method. I started using it fifteen years ago, when a half-day retreat was out of the question, and it hasn't failed me yet.  
The approach hinges on my experience that most boards perform better when they have something to edit or revise, rather than starting from scratch. This requires a bit of effort for me and my leadership team, or my clients, but it's well worth it if it needs to get done in one meeting.

How I use the S.I.N.G. Method:

First, I take 45 minutes and complete a draft of three to five goals using a table like the one below. I like to create 3 to 5 goals that touch on each key area: strategy, organizational culture, fundraising, marketing, client service, and financial management.
This happened...
We can overcome this by/because...
Some may disagree with this because...
One way to frame the goal to address the innovation and the neutralizer is by saying...
In 2022, competing programs are winning a larger share of the available grants.
Adjusting our template language and marketing campaigns to highlight our unique strength - the outcomes we are able to achieve year after year - will give us a competitive edge.
Template language and marketing will not make a significant difference if we have a high turnover rate among grant writers.
By the end of Q1 of 2023, we will revise the grant development and marketing protocols to highlight our unique strengths while ensuring departmental practices provide positive reinforcement for consistency and longevity on the grants team.
Here is a template in Google Sheets for you to copy or download.
Then I add DRAFT to the document and the filename to review it with my core team for feedback and clarification.
Next, I solicit feedback from select board members that are most likely to have concerns. If you've never gone to these board members for advice or guidance before, you will want to be very clear about why you may appear to be singling them out or trying to get on their good side. Tread carefully here.
I've tried a few different approaches to the conversation, all rooted in honesty and authenticity. For example, I've been known to say:
"I have a draft set of goals for 20XX, and I'd like to get your feedback.
Your views are valuable and you may see these goals from a different perspective that will make them better.
I'm reaching out because I'd like to have this document as close to final as possible before the Board packet goes out since we only have one more meeting in 20XX.
Do you have time to review them and give me some feedback by [insert date].
I appreciate your time."
Then I discuss it with the Board Chair while going over the feedback provided by others.
When the board meeting comes along, there are 2 - 4 people who have already given their input and the discussion is typically a bit of wordsmithing that wraps up quickly.
My goals are ready for next year!


See you again next Saturday.

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. Build your dream team using behavioral insights and validated techniques by booking a free Talent Discovery Call here.
  2. Book a team-building workshop here.
  3. Coming Soon: Lead your nonprofit like it's easy using The Nonprofit Operating System. Join the waitlist for this online course.


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