There is a way to insert all the key elements of an association into a single box to gauge strengths and weaknesses. It is not the kind of box you use to send a package. This box is a grid.

Associations have many guiding documents, including mission, budget, strategic plan, and committees. Seldom are all the elements assembled on a grid for comprehension by volunteer leaders.

The grid is positioned horizontally on 8.5- by 11-inch paper. The number of columns will depend on how many goals are in the strategic plan. Most strategic plans have four to six goals.

Information Overload

Volunteers receive an abundance of information, often organized in a 100-page manual, or loosely presented to them. The budget, rosters, mission and vision, goals and strategies are a lot to study.

Extract information to insert it into the grid. This helps volunteers see the big picture. Laminate the grid to position it as the most important document on the board table.

When discussions arise, check them against the grid. Ensure any new programs and ideas align with the strategic plan, workforce, and budget.

Model Grid

This sample illustrates the layout. The important mission is at the top. The mission is advanced by the goals in the columns below.

Strategies are programs and priorities to advance each goal at the head of the column. Leave the tactics out; they are the work of committees and staff.

Next, not much is achieved without positioning people. Committees and staff should be aligned under the goals. A column without the support of people is unlikely to be successful.

At the bottom of each column indicate the income generated within the goal. For example, professionalism may produce income from conferences, continuing education, and sponsorships. Some columns may have no income, realizing government affairs and leadership are necessary costs.

Don’t worry if everything doesn’t fit neatly in a column. It is common for some initiatives, for example diversity, technology, and people, to span multiple goals.

The grid ties things together for volunteer leaders, combining key elements to be able to recognize strengths and weaknesses.