Do you find yourself wondering if your board meetings are as productive as they should be? Even the most dedicated boards can find themselves getting into a rut of holding board meetings where there is more routine than progress. Imagine, for a moment, what an outsider looking in might say after observing one of your board meetings. Would they describe your board meetings as dull and ritualistic or progressive and engaging? If they’d comment that one member dominates and the rest follow or that they witnessed the board chair sliding a board agenda in front of board members as they take their seats, it’s time to review tips for nonprofit board meeting best practices.
Board discussions should always center around your mission, and your board dynamics and culture should be reflective of that. A board portal can help you refocus your board meetings based on nonprofit board meeting best practices, positioning you to take your board from drab to fab.
Best Practices for Nonprofit Board Meeting Preparation
Nonprofit board meeting best practices always begin with pre-planning for board meetings. That’s the key to making them productive and meaningful. Meeting planning encompasses planning the logistics of the meeting, the meeting agenda, and post-meeting follow-up. Nonprofit board meeting best practices also cover board dynamics, board culture, and board development.
Let’s take the logistics first. Whether you’re holding an in-person board meeting or hosting a video meeting, no one likes to arrive at a nonprofit board meeting where everyone is scrambling around getting everything ready at the last minute. If you’re not prepared to start and stop on time, you’re not adequately prepared. It’s vital to inform your board members well ahead of time about where and when the meeting will be held and what they’re expected to do once the meeting begins.
For an in-person meeting, the meeting room should be set up with the proper equipment and you need to ensure that it’s all in proper working order. The same is true for video meetings. Make sure everyone has the proper links and passwords and they can enter the meeting with ease.
Your board members should have a copy of the agenda and any reports that are listed on it well ahead of the meeting. Getting meeting materials early ensures that board members have ample time to read them, make notes, and ask any clarifying questions. One of the many advantages of using a board portal for pre-meeting work is that board members can send out reports easily as soon as they’re ready and board members can share annotations in the weeks before the meeting which saves you precious time during meetings. Getting the details ahead of a meeting means that board members will arrive at meetings being well-informed and ready to engage in robust discussions. This is especially important when your board is facing large proposals or they’re dealing with controversial matters.
Best Practices for Setting a Productive Nonprofit Agenda
Nonprofit board meeting best practices call for taking care of routine business such as taking attendance, approving the budget, and approving the minutes of the previous meeting. While all those things are essential, nonprofit board meetings should entail much more than that.
Best practices for board meetings indicate that the bulk of your board meetings should be spent on moving your mission forward. Your board agendas should be well-balanced, giving adequate time and attention to routine business matters, as well as dedicating sufficient time to the work you need to do to advance your mission.
Social time and building the board culture are important components for board meetings, but they shouldn’t take up the bulk of your board meeting time.
Best Practices for Taking Nonprofit Board Meeting Minutes
Best practices for board meeting minutes require boards to record the actions and decisions of the board. They don’t require (or encourage) taking detailed notes of exact conversations. Board meeting minutes software can be a valuable asset in this way. With board meeting software, you have the ability to take notes in real-time, polish the notes up quickly after the meeting and get them out to the other board members for approval in short order after the meeting. The benefit of this is that it puts you in a great position to record the board’s actions while the discussions are still fresh in everyone’s minds. By recording your board meeting minutes according to nonprofit board meeting best practices, you’ll eliminate problems that can creep up later on.
Best Practices for Keeping Your Board Engaged
Every board has a culture of its own. Board dynamics can and do change as board members leave and join your board. Each member plays a significant role in doing your board’s work. For that reason, it’s essential to ensure that all board members are actively engaged in board discussions. An experienced board chair knows how to allocate time and use the rules of order so that all board directors have an opportunity to present their perspectives. Board members should be giving their full attention to whoever is speaking and be open to their perspectives even if they disagree. Multiple perspectives are healthy and necessary so that boards can make appropriate, informed decisions for their nonprofit.
Best Practices Encourage Recognition and Appreciation
By and large, nonprofit organizations require a host of volunteers in one capacity or another. Volunteers sacrifice time away from work and away from their families to help your nonprofit advance its cause. Take time to recognize the board members, staff, and volunteers that are working so diligently week after week to advance your mission. The more people feel appreciated, the more they’re likely to engage in the important work that your organization is doing. Recognition can be as simple as a thank you or it can take the form of a certificate or plaque. The important thing is to publicly thank them and acknowledge their service to your organization.
Best Practices for Board Meeting Follow-Up
Your board meeting agenda and your minutes should reflect items for follow-up. The end of your board meetings is truly the start of your pre-meeting work for the next meeting. Your BoardEffect board portal is an effective tool for ensuring that board members follow through on the action items that are assigned to them. The end of your meeting should clearly describe what each board member needs to do before the next meeting and when the rest of the board can get an update or resolution from them. BoardEffect’s portal is secure, so you can send out reminders for action items within the security of the portal. When all board members follow through on tasks, it sets the stage for productive work at the next meeting.
To put it all together, a board portal supports best practices for nonprofit work by assisting you with the pre-meeting work, setting a productive agenda, engaging your board, honoring your board and workers, and supporting post-meeting follow-up. BoardEffect sets your board on pace to advance your mission and keeps it on pace.