Experienced nonprofit boards play a vital role in repositioning nonprofits for growth in an uncertain time.

Author: James A. Rice


How can nonprofits best reposition for growth in a landscape of uncertainty, expanding new risks, and revenue and workforce constraints? Leading nonprofits are finding their boards can be an essential resource for their successful journey into this challenging and unchartered territory. But only if the boards have the experience and culture to focus more on the strategic, and less on the tactical.1

Tactical governance fosters suboptimal board work and organizational performance by only looking in the rear view mirror to address past operational challenges and plans. Strategic governance guides the organization's journey to future vitality via strategic thinking and planning that embraces three key imperatives:

Stakeholder engagement

Growth requires a successful board to plan strategically in order to understand, and sustainably serve, the needs of diverse stakeholders (staff, donors, beneficiaries, supply chain partners). This in turn requires the board to reach out and listen to its many internal and external stakeholders with modern engagement surveys and focus groups. Boards with diverse members are usually the most effective at engaging and mobilizing diverse stakeholders.2

Scenario thinking

As champions for the organization's mission, strategic boards encourage the development of alternate and provocative scenario visions that engage and then build ownership of their roadmap to future vitality among its many stakeholders. Modern social media tools are being harnessed to invite stakeholder participation in processes for strategic planning and performance monitoring.

Culture of celebration

To continuously enhance and sustain optimal stakeholder performance in the journey to post COVID-19 organizational vitality, strategic boards design and support a culture that encourages, recognizes and rewards above-average results. This culture nurtures public celebration of, and appreciation for, mission-driven plans, passion and performance.

Author Information


1Hoel, Rick. "The Role of the Board of Directors in Strategic Planning,"Diligent Corporation, 12 Apr 2019

2Forbes Nonprofit Council. "12 Practical Steps A Nonprofit Can Take To Diversify Its Board,"Forbes.com, 29 Oct 2021


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