The Secret to a Successful Not-for-Profit Board? Staying Focused

intentional practices Jul 08, 2024
The Secret to a Successful Not-for-Profit Board? Staying Focused


Focus = Success. But with the never-ending meetings, constantly shifting priorities, and big egos, your vision can fade fast. Staying focused on the mission that drew you there gets harder by the day. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You joined the board to make a difference. With some simple strategies, your board can cut through the noise and recapture its purpose. Getting everyone rowing in the same direction again is possible!


Stay on Mission

As a board member, it's crucial to keep the organization's mission at the forefront. Getting sidetracked by minor issues or personal agendas can derail progress. Keep referring back to the core purpose - why does we exist? Why are we here? What change are we striving for? Tie every decision back to serving that mission.


Prioritize Strategically

Define clear goals. Make sure everyone is crystal clear on the current areas of focus.

How do you measure success when money isn't the driving factor? Start by clearly defining your mission and goals. What impact do you want to make on your community or cause? Getting the board aligned on specific, measurable objectives makes evaluating progress much easier.

Vague goals lead to mission drift. Get specific about what you want to achieve - and by when. Set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Review progress consistently.

Not everything can be the top priority. Successful boards prioritize ruthlessly to use limited resources effectively. Weigh which initiatives will have the biggest positive impact on your community. Don't be afraid to table less critical matters temporarily to devote yourselves fully to key objectives.

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Ditch the Distractions

Board meetings should be focused. Rein in rambling commentary and personal tangents. Start on time, stick to the agenda, and don't let meetings veer off track. And finish on time! If a topic needs in-depth discussion, park it for a dedicated working session. Nothing should be on the agenda unless it has been reviewed by a committee and come forward with a recommendation. The only exception, sometimes, is a topic for exploration. The board's time is precious - use it wisely.


Check Your Progress

Once you've outlined your goals, identify the key success factors (KSFs) that will demonstrate progress. This should include impact and outcome measures, not just numbers served. Consistently monitoring allows you to pivot strategies as needed.

Invest in tracking key metrics. Dig into the numbers regularly.

Periodically take a step back to evaluate if you're still heading in the right direction. Are you allocating resources optimally? Making progress towards goals? Celebrate wins, but also be willing to adjust course if needed.

An unfocused board is rudderless - stay focused and purposeful. “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there!”

The ability to maintain sharp focus is critical for any successful board. By keeping the mission front and center, prioritizing ruthlessly, ditching distractions, and continually checking progress, your board can maximize its positive impact.


What are your main “pain points” dealing with maintaining focus?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



Here's Something to Help You Focus

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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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