For this month’s Toolkit Thursday, I feature a key governance planning tool for boards: the Annual Board Calendar.

As 2019 winds down, it’s natural to think about the upcoming year and what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months as it relates to your own personal and professional goals, but this same forward looking planning is also extremely helpful for boards to properly plan and schedule their annual objectives to ensure compliance and effectiveness.

Who can use it? Boards looking to use their time wisely and ensure key strategic priorities are addressed in a 12 month period.

What is it? An Annual Board Calendar is a governance tool that the Board uses to plan and develop their annual work commitments. It ensures essential items like the CEO/ED’s evaluation, annual budget cycle, and board orientation are properly scheduled so that all parties have clarity of obligations. Other items that can be included on the board calendar are:

  • Regular board meetings with any meeting topic or objective clearly stated.
  • Nominations cycle dates should also be included so that any board members whose terms are coming up are properly backfilled to mitigate risks of gaps of skills on the board.
  • Committee meetings and any key deliverables set out in the committee’s annual work plan (ie. By-laws, investment reviews, audit report review).
  • Annual General Meeting date and any other Special General Meetings of the members.
  • Anything else that helps your organisation with keeping on top of important deliverables and meeting its strategic and fiduciary duties.

When to use it? At the beginning of the board’s year, the chair will lead the process with the aim of the board agreeing upon dates and deliverables on a monthly cadence. The beginning of the year can be lined up with the fiscal year or after a period of less organisational activity like in the Fall after summertime. Once the calendar has been agreed upon, it’s important to keep the document well circulated throughout the year. Including it in the monthly board package will keep it front of mind for board members and will ensure that monthly items set out in the calendar are included on the agenda for discussion as needed.

Why? Like they say: when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Going into a new year with a board calendar will give your organisation the foresight to decide what is important with the time and space to accomplish it all.

For more details on How to develop an annual board calendar, see this template for some ideas on the items to include and how to lay out your calendar as it relates to your organisation’s unique needs.