A smart non-profit organization develops policies that support its strategic and operational plans. Effective policies have a high level of uptake by staff and board and make the organization stronger. By comparison, policies that don’t make sense will not be upheld at an operational level and can cause confusion among the management and staff.
Six Stages of Policy Formulation
There are six main stages in developing policy. Each step plays an important role in evaluating the need for a new policy or deciding if existing policies are old and outdated.
Identifying the Need for a New Policy or Policy Review
The policies of a non-profit organization should complement the development of the agency itself. As an organization grows so does its need to create new policies and engage in regular policy reviews. Well managed organizations have policies for governance and strategic direction, operations, human resources, financial administration, media protocols, health and safety, and CEO evaluation and compensation.
Information gathering for the development of new policies or the review of old ones typically begins with the work of a standing or special committee. These committees create plans for researching policy topics. Policy research can include meetings with key stakeholders, staff interviews, and membership surveys.
Committees are tasked with preparing different policy options that the board can review during regular meetings. As some issues are complex it is ideal if a committee can prepare several different options for the board to consider and discuss.
Discussing Options and Recommendations
Discussions are tabled under the committee reporting sections of a board’s agenda. Boards need to make time during board meetings to discuss proposed policies in-depth. Doing so will give the committee direction and can create buy-in from those who will ultimately be tasked with voting to approve or reject the new proposed policy.
Committees must carefully consider board input when drafting their recommendations during the final steps of the policy development phase.
Voting on Policy
The committee’s recommendations, once drafted, will be voted on by the board. It’s during this phase when the proposed policy is either passed or voted down by the board.
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology & Business Blogger