Non-profit boards play a critical role in advancing the mission of the organisation and serving its constituents. To achieve these goals, board meetings need to be productive and effective. Here are some tips on how to run successful non-profit board meetings:
- Prepare an agenda: A clear agenda is the cornerstone of an effective board meeting. It should outline the items to be discussed, the decisions to be made, and the time allocated to each agenda item. Share the agenda with all board members in advance so they can review it and come prepared to the meeting. A structured agenda can help ensure that everyone has a chance to speak and that the discussion stays on track.
- Encourage participation: Create a culture of open communication and collaboration where everyone’s opinions are valued. Set clear expectations at the beginning of the meeting and establish ground rules that encourage all board members to participate in the discussion. The chairman can emphasize that everyone’s opinion is valued and that it’s important to hear from everyone in the room. Encourage all board members to actively listen to each other and avoid interrupting or talking over one another. Perhaps establish a “no interrupting” rule and ask board members to raise their hand if they would like to speak next. To facilitate discussions, ask open-ended questions and use brainstorming techniques.
- Clarify roles and responsibilities: It’s important to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each board member and how they can work together to achieve the organization’s mission. Assign tasks, delegate responsibilities, and establish accountability mechanisms. Review these roles and responsibilities periodically to ensure that they remain relevant and effective.
- Follow a clear meeting structure: In addition to an agenda, it’s important to follow a clear meeting structure that ensures that all agenda items are covered and that discussions are productive. Facilitate discussions, handle disagreements, and make decisions in a way that is fair and transparent. Use a decision-making framework, such as consensus-building or voting, to make decisions when necessary.
- Keep on Track: The chairman should ensure that discussion does not veer off the subject and that there is only the one (main) discussion underway at any time!
- Focus on the mission: Keep the organization’s mission at the forefront of discussions. All decisions should be made with the goal of advancing the organization’s mission and serving its constituents. Monitor progress towards goals and regularly review the organization’s financial reports to ensure that it is on track financially.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting: After the meeting, conduct a post-meeting evaluation to gather feedback and identify areas for improvement. Use this information to make adjustments to future meetings and ensure that they are even more effective.
- Minutes: Ensure the minutes are drafted soon after the meeting while they are fresh in the mind, and ensure that they are concise and accurately reflect the decisions of the meeting