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How To Facilitate More Efficient And Effective Nonprofit Board Meetings

How to Facilitate More Efficient and Effective Nonprofit Board Meetings


Your nonprofit has vibrant goals and an important mission that can make a deep impact on your community. However, when it comes to board meetings, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and get lost in the weeds of various issues and challenges. So how do you make sure your board stays focused on bringing the organisation’s vision to life?

If you’re a meeting facilitator, you play a vital role in making sure board meetings are efficient and successful. While there are always myriad issues vying for the board’s attention at meetings, you can help cut through the noise, transition smoothly through each agenda item, and ensure everyone stays on track and gets a chance to be heard.

To ensure your next nonprofit or charity board meeting runs smoothly and effectively, let’s explore parliamentary procedure for meetings so you can better understand your responsibilities and know what to expect.

How You Run a Board Meeting Matters

How you steer a board meeting can have a big impact on whether attendees cover all the key items on the agenda and get a proper understanding of the issues impacting your not-for-profit. You play a crucial part in preventing a stressful or frustrating meeting environment — all by keeping things running smoothly.

Meeting facilitators or chairs need to ensure that meetings are organised, efficient and democratic. A skilled chairperson allows all members to voice their opinions in an orderly manner so that everyone in the meeting can hear and be heard. Making space for everyone’s unique viewpoints will help the entire board look at key issues from every angle and come up with more creative solutions.

Additionally, your role as a facilitator can help keep the meeting on schedule — without anyone feeling like a major issue wasn’t addressed.

Why Your Agenda is Your Most Powerful Tool

In every board meeting, the agenda is your lifeline. An established plan for what you’ll need to cover during a meeting will help all the attendees stay focused and productive during discussions.

Build out a strategic agenda by reviewing past meeting items and checking with board members to see if there are any new issues to include.

Your agenda should outline the key steps in the meeting, including:

  • Heading
  • Call to order
  • Agenda changes
  • Approval of minutes
  • Reports
  • Old business
  • New business
  • Comments and announcements
  • Adjournment

Once the agenda is finalised, you should distribute it to board members ahead of time for review. One way to make this process easier is to use a board management solution, so you can seamlessly share documents through one secure, online platform.

At the meeting, use your agenda as a roadmap to track what items need to be covered and keep things organised. The agenda can also help you clarify action items and keep board members accountable for following through on next steps.

Download our How to Take Meeting Minutes Kit to streamline your meeting minutes process for more effective results.


Standard Board Meeting Procedures for UK Not-For-Profits

What does it look like to run an effective and efficient board meeting? Here are some steps you can take as a facilitator to seamlessly manage key procedures during the meeting.

Opening a meeting

When you start the meeting, call everyone to order. You’ll want to ensure everyone knows the expectations for your allotted time and that they have all the materials needed to proceed. One best practice to make this easier is to use technology designed for nonprofits. With a secure board management platform, you can ensure everything attendees need — from previous documentation to forms that need signing — is available in one secure platform. This way, board trustees can come better prepared for meetings so everyone can use meeting time more effectively.

Establishing quorums

In order to stay compliant and ensure all key decision makers are present at meetings, you’ll need to establish quorum. Following quorum protocol helps ensure that the minimum number of voting members are present before you conduct business at a meeting. Typically, this would mean having a minimum majority of members present, though it will vary depending on your organisation’s governing documents and standard practice.

Taking minutes

At any board meeting, it’s important to take minutes as an official and legal record of what occurred, from motions to votes to absences. During the meeting, the secretary will take notes and then finalise them in a formal report afterward. The record will then need to be filed and shared with the board members.

Making a motion

When someone wants to make a motion, you’ll need to ensure that it’s managed smoothly. Any board member may propose a decision or action. Then, another member will need to second the motion to confirm it. After the motion is seconded, the entire group can then vote on the decision and pass it by a quorum or majority vote. Your job throughout the process is to recognise speakers and ensure motions go through the proper procedures.

Managing proxies

If a trustee can’t attend the meeting, they may choose to use proxies. In the U.K., there are currently no laws governing the use of proxies, so your organisation must decide whether to do so at the board level. If a proxy is permitted for a meeting, you’ll need to ensure you have specific governance procedures in place to support it.

The absent trustee must deliver a form ahead of the meeting, satisfy any requirements for the form of a proxy mandate and make clear the proxy’s powers during votes.

Tips to Help You Facilitate Board Meetings Seamlessly

So you’re getting ready for your next board meeting. What can you do to make sure you transition seamlessly between agenda items, stay on schedule and make sure everyone gets a chance to be heard?

Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Send out the agenda ahead of time: Sharing the agenda early can be easy to forget, but it will save you time and effort later on. Make sure all attendees have the agenda on hand before the meeting, so they can come prepared.
  2. Use quorums for any key votes: Reference guidelines by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) and the Charity Commission for establishing the proper quorum. It’s your responsibility to ensure that an adequate number of board representatives consider each business item.
  3. Control the meeting’s flow: Be sure to recognise members who ask to speak, and help ensure that everyone who wants to gets the chance to offer input.
  4. Set the tone: Model positive communication and help everyone else show courtesy and respects in discussions.
  5. Keep things on track: It’s easy for board members to go off topic, so be ready to jump in and gently steer the conversation back to the agenda goals whenever needed.

Streamline Meeting Management with BoardEffect

Looking for an accessible, secure way to keep your meetings organised and productive? BoardEffect is a board management solution specially designed to meet the unique needs of nonprofit boards. Our solution streamlines board processes, enhances communication and promotes accountability.

Learn how we can help your board meetings be more efficient and effective today.

Mary Oyerly

Mary Oyerly, Senior Content Strategy Specialist at Diligent, has experience working across the B2B and B2C SaaS sector and supporting the needs of corporate and not-for-profit business leaders. She has worked extensively with governance technologies and how they can drive improved visibility, efficiency and compliance across the organization.

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