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Step 2 – Develop the work plan

Nine Steps to Effective Governance

Developing an annual agenda 

The purpose of the annual agenda is to ensure the board takes control of its own business and plans to address those matters that are essential for effective governance rather than leaving them to chance or in the hands of the chief executive. 

Boards in both the commercial and non-profit sectors develop annual or 12-month agendas as the basis for an annual governance work plan. To develop such an agenda a board might brainstorm all of its significant events and duties to be attended to in the coming the year, allocating a date for each to be addressed. 

Typical items include: 

  • preparation for the AGM 
  • the chief executive’s performance appraisal cycle and key dates 
  • board performance review 
  • financial reporting 
  • an annual review of organisational strategy 
  • an annual retreat 
  • dates for retirement/selection of new members 
  • designated dialogue sessions on particular strategic issues/key challenges 
  • consultation with key stakeholders 
  • meeting with the external auditor 
  • review of health and safety obligations 
  • review of organisational culture 
  • committee reporting dates 
  • signing off the annual report 
  • a schedule for policy review 
  • dates for meetings and other significant events specific to the organisation.

The annual agenda also ensures the board controls its own business and is committed to addressing matters that are essential for effective governance.

Scheduling ahead of time doesn’t prevent including matters on a month-by-month, as-required basis. 

Analysing and evaluating progress

During the year the board should schedule an in-depth discussion on each of the Ends policies, examining each and subjecting it to a variety of strategic thinking and analysis processes. Ends policies will include outcomes and a statement of the external benefit to be created. This process will serve as an in-depth analysis of the chief executive’s achievements and will strengthen board members’ knowledge about the Ends policies of the organisation. Mission-critical risks and major challenges related to achievement of the desired ends can be added to a work plan for consideration.

The following is a sample work plan. It is not intended to be complete – each organisation can construct their own with reference to the list of options above.

Annual board work plan

  • 3/2 Audit & Risk Committee
  • 10/2 Board meeting
  • Health and safety/organisational culture review
  • Key strategic issue #1
  • 30/3 Board meeting
  • Quarterly policy review
  • Annual governance review (chair this year)
  • Governance development plan update
  • 20/4 Annual strategic review (full day)
  • 8/5 CE Performance Review Committee
  • 10/5 Audit & Risk Committee
  • 20/5 Board meeting
  • Annual budget
  • 30/6 Board meeting
  • Six-monthly CE review
  • Quarterly policy review
  • Health and safety/organisational culture review
  • Key strategic issue #2
  • 12 & 13/7 National championships
  • 3/8 Audit & Risk Committee
  • 10/8 Board meeting
  • Year-end strategic and financial report
  • Quarterly policy review
  • 20/9 Board meeting
  • 20/9 AGM
  • Health and safety/organisational culture review
  • 10/10 Board member induction day
  • 30/10 Board meeting
  • Annual stakeholder plan review
  • 20/11 CE Performance Review Committee
  • 25/11 Audit & Risk Committee
  • Key strategic issue #3
  • 5/12 Board meeting
  • Six-monthly CE review
  • Quarterly policy review
  • Health and safety/organisational culture review

Supporting Material

Annual work plan template (DOC 26.7 KB)

Developing an annual agenda (from Good Governance) (DOC 198 KB)

Sample meeting agenda (DOC 55.5 KB)

Download complete document

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