What to Prioritize: The Agenda

Tuesday August 25, 2020 comments Tags: nonprofit, accounting, mission, vision, tools, infrastructure, systems, capacity building, goverance

Any accounting, business or tax advice in this here podcast is not intended as a thorough in depth analysis of your specific issues. It's not a substitute for a formal opinion. It is not good enough to avoid tax related penalties. Got to tell you this because don't want y'all coming for me. Did you know that I offer free 30 minute strategy sessions, strategy sessions are time for you to come with questions about the challenges your nonprofit is facing and for us to work through what that looks like, are there some resources that you need to be connected with? Are there some tools that we have that could guide you? Strategy sessions are free because I want you to have this time to really flesh out and talk out loud about what your organization is needing and if CNRG is a fit, great. But if not, we really want to make sure that you have what you need to take the next best step. Book a time on my calendar using calendly.com/cnrg/strategy. Back to the episode.  

Chyla Graham:

What's one thing that you would like more organizations to prioritize?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Well, I think that one thing ... I think I've already expressed this in the sense that my baseline is always governance. But I think that in the context of governance, I wish more boards and more organizations would really think about how they are approaching their meetings and how meetings are being planned. I think agendas are sometimes under appreciated tools that boards can really turn to be intentional and strategic about the conversations that they're having. Having both been a volunteer leader as well as the professional working in this space, I've experienced the gamut where board meetings can just feel after thoughts and you don't get anything until the day before and there's not a lot of planning.

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

That's not going to set you up to be strategic. I'm a big proponent of be thoughtful about the agenda planning process. Don't just look in Robert's rules and say, "Oh, this is what an agenda is supposed to look like." You have a lot to work with when it comes to really thinking about how are we planning this time, which is, for most nonprofits, it's two to three hours of this space of time when the board has the ability to make really important decisions and take really important action. I think it's something that hopefully all organizations are taking very seriously because it should be taken seriously. But I think those that lack the capacity sometimes that falls by the wayside, and I really hope, my hope and wish for organizations is that they take that meeting time and that meeting space very seriously.

Chyla Graham:

No, that agenda I think is one of the best tools to be like, "Did we put this together before today?" That way you actually know what you want to talk about, and even internally here, my COO, my virtual administrator, we have a standing meeting in our agenda I keep open as a notebook so that I'm constantly adding to it throughout the week so we don't just come to the day of the meeting to say, "Oh, what are we talking about?"

Rachel Miller-Bleich:


Chyla Graham:

It keeps going and then I can refine it to that before our meeting, as opposed to saying, "I didn't put anything on the list, let's talk about all the things that are just currently in my head." I think, yeah, definitely like you said, being more thoughtful, really maximizing that time is how people will want to, I don't know if they want to stay, but they can manage being on the board when they know, "Okay, this is not a fly by the seat of our pants type of deal." 

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

Right. Right. Well, then there's also ... I think that the example that you bring up is a really good one and it reminds me of some other strategies that organizations, not just nonprofits, but even for-profits use, which is they use shared documents to maintain ongoing communication between meetings to be able to identify issues and keep up on whether they are shared briefing materials or just updates on certain situations. There is the opportunity to maintain communication so that when you get to the table you're not drinking from a fire hose. That's the big trope that we talk about a lot, which is when you come to the table, are you just reporting out on things that have happened in the past or are you really thinking about this is where we are. Now where do we need to go?

Rachel Miller-Bleich:

And how you structure the agenda, how you share information and distribute reports, I think there's a lot of innovative ideas out there that go beyond just the traditional we're going to do an agenda and then we're going to pass out all of these briefing reports. Then you have seven days to review them. Those are the standards and those standards work I think for most organizations. But I think people are pretty hungry for more innovative approaches to how do you use those tools? How do you make those tools work for the particular group in the particular culture that you're working in?

Chyla Graham:

So, is your organization using agendas? Let us know.



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