9 Steps to Getting the Most From Your Board Meeting
By Keith White
For most nonprofits, board meetings are a monthly occurrence. And you only have an hour or two to take care of business. Your board consists of busy people with family and work competing for their attention. You’ve got to make the most of the time you have together. Planning and executing effective board meetings is an ideal way to keep your board engaged and on track. Plus, it makes you look like the organized, detail-oriented, focused leader you are!
Follow these nine steps to increase efficiency and put your board to work for your nonprofit. For the complete timeline of each step, download How to Engage and Activate Your Nonprofit Board.
Step 1: Distribute Meeting Minutes
Email your notes to your board within 24 hours after your meeting so everyone can remember what was discussed and decided. Highlight strategic action plans and who will serve as lead for each item.
Step 2: Prepare the Agenda
Create a template that you can reuse for each board meeting. Use your notes to start the next meeting’s agenda while the recent meeting is fresh in your mind. Include items that involve an assigned period of time, include actionable steps, and are relevant to the entire board.
Step 3: Review Action Items and Follow Up
After the meeting, follow up with each board member assigned to an action item. Be specific in order to increase the likelihood of successful, timely task completion.
Step 4: Update Key Staff on Board Decisions, Discussions, and Plans
Inform staff of relevant board discussions to gain unique insights that only those on the front lines of day-to-day operations can provide.
Step 5: Meet with the Board President
Prior to finalizing the agenda of your next board meeting, connect with your board president to discuss priorities, provide status updates, and exchange ideas without the constraints of a full-board meeting. This is an excellent opportunity to create a deep partnership with your board president.
Step 6: Prepare Meeting Packets
Keep your packets relevant and essential. Include previous board meeting minutes, the upcoming meeting’s agenda, financial documents, committee reports, and any additional information that will be addressed in the meeting.
Step 7: Distribute Agenda, Reports, and Meeting Reminder
Share your board meeting packet with Network for Good’s email communications tool. Combine all your necessary files into one PDF and send it to your targeted board list. No more worrying about email attachments being too big to send. Using your donor management system’s communications tools is a great way to ensure files get through. Plus, you can see exactly who received—and opened—your email.
Step 8: Stick to the Agenda
It’s easy to get distracted during meetings and let tangents take over the agenda. Prioritize your topics in advance and stay within your allotted timeframes to keep meetings focused and productive. Find creative ways to steer the conversation back on track when necessary. Don’t forget to recognize the individual and collective contributions of your board at each meeting. Everyone enjoys a little personal appreciation.
Step 9: Take Thorough Meeting Minutes
The more accurate and detailed your notes, the more effective the outcomes. Identify action items, the person assigned to the task, and the timeframe for completion. These notes convert back into Step 1, keeping your meeting flowing in a natural cycle of progress and efficiency.
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