How Nonprofits Can Keep Strategy Front and Center

As a consultant to nonprofit organizations, I often hear board members complain, “We almost never have time in board meetings to talk about strategy. We’re too busy with board business!”

This, of course, raises the question: What kind of board business requires more sustained attention than strategy?

Honestly, none. But in the nonprofit world, many boards never get around to discussing strategic issues, because tradition dictates a certain unproductive, unengaging rhythm and template for board meetings. In the name of fiduciary responsibility, boards fill their agendas with operational details and report-outs of routine activities, and board meetings become exercises in tedium and trivia.

The typical meeting opens with approval of the minutes. Then there’s a long discussion of that month’s financials. Then each committee reports out. On and on it goes, and then it’s quitting time, and the meeting wraps up — until a few weeks later, when a new…

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This article was written by Alan Cantor and originally published on