Best Practices: An Effective Board Meeting Agenda (Sponsored)

This article originally appeared on the BoardEffect blog here.

With so many changes occurring simultaneously, it’s truly becoming a different world. Extreme changes in the economy and society, as well as the influence of information technology, are impacting all organizations, especially nonprofits. Charities and other nonprofits are being relied upon to fill the gaps in needed programs and services due to the instability of the federal government budget.

Nonprofits are stepping up their efforts. Some nonprofit leaders are stepping out of the box in their efforts to maximize efficiency and to go the extra mile to serve the needs of their constituencies. Thinking about their work in new ways is prompting some nonprofit executives to take a nontraditional approach regarding agenda planning.

Traditional Nonprofit Agenda Sample

The most common type of agenda format is the traditional agenda. There’s some room for flexibility based on the organization’s needs, but this agenda generally follows the following format.

  • Welcome
  • Call to order
  • Approve the minutes of the last meeting
  • Executive director’s report
  • Finance committee report
  • Nominating and governance committee report
  • Program committee report
  • Fundraising committee report
  • Unfinished business
  • New business
  • Board development
  • Guest presentations (You may move this up earlier in the agenda so guests don’t have to sit through the entire meeting.)
  • Adjournment

 

The finance committee usually distributes quarterly reports and the board members might have a brief discussion about the projected budget and the actual budget. The agenda might also include cyclical items, such as the audit, elections or other annual events.

Strategic Nonprofit Agenda Sample

  • Welcome
  • Opening thoughts. A different board member opens the meeting with an opening thought.
  • Call to order
  • Consent Agenda. This usually includes the minutes of the last meeting and other routine items that require little or no discussion. Board members can move to withdraw an item from the consent agenda if it needs additional discussion.
  • Finance committee report
  • Nominating and governance committee report
  • Program committee report
  • Fundraising committee report
  • Discussion of strategic initiatives
  • Board development
  • Unfinished business
  • Adjournment

 

Strategic agendas streamline routine items to allow board members to spend most of the meeting time on strategic planning. Some nonprofit boards have found that it’s helpful to throw out brainstorming questions like, “What’s keeping you up at night?” to get board discussions started.

Customized Nonprofit Agenda Sample

Taking a nontraditional approach to the agenda forces board members to pay attention. They’ll usually keep their agendas front and center because they won’t be able to memorize the agenda order. Place important information like important dates at the top of the agenda, because board members will see them repeatedly as they look for their places on the agenda.

  • Welcome
  • Call to order
  • Reading of the mission statement
  • Board chair remarks
  • 7-minute briefing
  • 7-minute question-and-answer session
  • Upcoming events or program planning
  • Open-ended discussion on outside factors
  • Minutes and commitments review
  • Finance committee report
  • Nominating task force
  • Executive Director responds to questions

 

Board chair remarks refers to anything that’s been weighing on that person’s mind. This could be an opportunity for a new fundraising idea, board development, organizational culture, potential risks or anything else that might be concerning the leader.

The board member briefing gives boards a short time to hear from a board member about the knowledge or expertise that they’ve gained in their professional life that could help other board members. This time can also be used to hear from a board member who benefits from the nonprofit’s services. Rotate speakers so all board members have a chance to share their knowledge and experiences. Follow the brief with an additional seven minutes of questions and answers.

Board Portals Are the Most Effective Tool for Board Agendas

A board portal is the most efficient way to manage board business, and allows board administrators to craft any type of board agenda that works best for the organization. BoardEffect’s board portal works with the annual cycles of boards to ensure that they’re managing all aspects of compliance and annual activities. BoardEffect also aids in forming an efficient agenda, following up on critical tasks, documenting approvals and more.

A board portal streamlines routine board processes so that boards can fully engage and spend most of their time on strategic planning, fundraising and oversight.

Interested in learning about key areas to keep in mind when evaluating a board portal to make the best possible decision for your organization? Get everything you need to know to approach board portal software effectively. Download BoardEffect’s free Board Portal Buyer’s Kit now.