How to Create Efficient Nonprofit Board Meetings
Although we can’t expect every nonprofit board meeting to be fun and full of laughs, they all do not have to be long and boring. I have experienced many laborious board meetings and have heard many stories of extremely long-winded, inefficient and sometimes inappropriate board meetings. Here are some tips that can help cut the length of your board meetings as well as make them more focused and therefore more enjoyable.
- Assess your past meetings.
- How and where has the time been spent? Do you spend a lot of time discussing details of the organizational management? Are you taking time planning upcoming fundraisers? Do you like to review the budget in detail?
- Plan for upcoming meetings.
- Use your knowledge of where the meeting time is usually spent and then determine if that time is being well spent. Can your board do more work outside of meetings to review the planning of events or assessing the budget? Defer a lot of this work to the appropriate committees. Ensure that the board is allowing the Executive Director (ED) to handle management issues. When the majority of the ‘work’ is done outside of the board meetings, then the committees and ED can bring in updates to the board so that the board is aware of the issues and can make the necessary decisions.
- Create an agenda that works.
- When creating the agenda, ensure that you are scheduling time for a review of the past (monitoring financials and previous outcomes), present (how the organization is currently doing while taking into account the mission of the organization) and future (including the strategy, goals and vision) of your organization. Schedule time for each topic that you will cover in the meeting. Be reasonable, but efficient with your allotment of time.
- Assign a facilitator.
- Have one person who is good at facilitating (this does not necessarily have to be the Board Chairperson) take on the role of ‘facilitator’. This person will be expected to monitor the time and to ensure that the meeting stays on track with the assigned and expected time and agenda items set out prior to the meeting’s commencement.
- Be deliberate about your actions during the meeting. (Clearly take votes and assign tasks while meeting.)
- Be as efficient as possible as your meeting progresses. During the meeting, use a system such as Roberts Rules of Order, to take votes and to document those votes. Also, be clear about what follow-up work needs to be done after the meeting and who will do that work. Create an action plan template that will assign who will take on follow-up items, what they will accomplish, when they will complete the task and when they will present their work to either a committee and/or the board.
Taking a few easy steps prior to and during your meetings can help to ensure an efficient and effective meeting. All board members will be grateful for this!
Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art