The purpose of this article is to help boards to be more effective by focussing on the big picture—not on routine matters—by building on the benefits of using a consent agenda.

A consent agenda promotes good time management, allowing Boards “to focus on issues of real importance to the organization and its future,” by minimizing the time invested on routine matters.

To learn more about a consent agenda, please see our article Make Board Meetings More Productive by Using a Consent Agenda.

A planning calendar ensures your board focuses on issues that are of the most importance to your organization and its future. This means that what is most important is not overlooked, because of the crisis de jour.

An ideal time to prepare, review, and revise a planning calendar is after the budget for the coming year has been approved. This is to ensure that the areas where your association’s funds have been allocated are the focus of the board review.

The following are some items that typically would be included in a board’s planning calendar; some might take only a few minutes (e.g. update on insurance), others might be more complex and be the subject of a one or two-day board retreat.



Board member self-evaluation and identification of skill sets gaps required to be filled, because of change in Board membership and/or new priorities

One-month before evaluation of association management company and/or CEO

Leadership development/board member education on a topic(s), based on the gaps identified in the above self-evaluation

Following results of board member self-evaluation

Evaluation of association management company and/or CEO

Three to four months before the anniversary date of the association management company’s agreement and/or CEO’s contract, or at least once per year

Prioritize goals for the next 12-months for the board and for the association management company and/or CEO

One-month after evaluation of association management company and/or CEO

Review and approval of the coming year’s budget

One-month after goals for the next 12-months have been prioritized and before the start of the new fiscal year

Review and revise board and staff policies

Can be spread out over the course of the year

Orientation for new board members

One-month prior to the Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Review strategic plan and activities that were planned for the board-year that is ending

Final meeting of the board

Review mission and vision statements and then prioritize board activities, and assigned responsibilities identified in the strategic plan

First meeting of the new board

Updates on insurance (Commerical General Liability and Directors & Officers) by the insurance broker

Two-months prior to the anniversary of insurance policies

Review of draft financial statements and update on internal financial controls by the external accountant/auditor

Prior to the AGM

An excellent tool to help develop your Board’s planning calendar is 20 Questions Directors of Not-For-Profit Organizations Should Ask About Board Recruitment, Development, and Assessment published by Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA). It is part of their free Not-for-Profit (NFP) Directors Series publications.

CPA also offers free two-hour breakfast workshops offered in major cities across Canada. October’s session topics are “Governance for Not-For-Profit Organizations” and “Understanding Financial Statements for Non-Financial Not-For-Profit Directors”.