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how-to-write-the-optimal-nonprofit-board-meeting-agenda

How to Write the Optimal Nonprofit Board Meeting Agenda (+ Example Templates)

Corinne

As officers determine the most important decisions during board meetings, making sure these events run smoothly is essential to the all-around governance of your nonprofit organization. 

Featuring prominently in the center of an efficient and constructive meeting is an ironclad agenda outlining all topics for discussion and the nonprofit board's responsibilities.

We know tips on writing the optimal nonprofit board meeting agenda may not seem like the most riveting topic but trust us, when your next meeting ends on time (or early!), you will thank us.

Here is what we will discuss:  

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Why Prepare a Board Meeting Agenda?

When considering nonprofit board meeting best practices, organization is key. 

A well thought out, detailed agenda is absolutely critical to meeting structure so that no important topics are omitted and every trustee understands their meeting responsibilities in plenty of time to design comprehensive presentations. 

Given that board meetings are so important for making decisions to further your nonprofit’s mission and ultimate success, the agenda provides a guide for improved productivity during the meeting’s allotted time while making it easier for your secretary to create accurate meeting minutes for later reference. 

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Items to Include in Every Board Meeting Agenda

There are certain details that are mandatory for every board meeting agenda. Prepare a standard agenda section to feature the following information: 

  • Meeting date and time

  • Attendance records

  • Action items from the previous meeting’s minutes (prepared by the secretary)

  • Segment title e.g., Reporting, Financials

  • Allotted time for each segment

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How to Structure Your Agenda for Efficiency

If you want your board meeting to be productive and flow smoothly from topic to topic in a logical order, you need to have this planned in advance through your agenda. 

how-to-write-the-optimal-nonprofit-board-meeting-agenda-how-to-structureOliver is loving learning about creating more efficient meeting agendas!

We recommend the following order to ensure that your agendas are a roadmap to achieve an efficient nonprofit meeting:

1. The Introduction/Welcome

The preliminary section of your agenda should allow for the board chair to make new member introductions. If this is your first board meeting, be sure to take sufficient time to introduce everyone and make sure all members understand the agenda and how the meeting will progress. 

Your major goal in your introduction is to make it clear to all parties how the meeting will unfold and an understanding of which topics will be addressed through the course of the meeting.

2. Previous Meeting Recap

Here, the board chair or secretary will refresh the board members on the minutes from the previous meeting before revisiting any previous discussions or moving on to new topics. 

3. Reporting

Once everyone is settled and refreshed on previous minutes, it is time to begin report presentations, for instance, the executive director’s report, or program committee reports. 

As many of these reports are standard for each meeting, over time you will have a better understanding of how long it takes to get through these reports so that you can adapt your agenda time allotments accordingly. 

4. Financials

This section is your treasurer’s time to shine. 

This is when they will go over any changes to the income and expenses between this board meeting and the last, ensuring that all information is as up-to-date and comprehensive as possible so that the board can make appropriate decisions using this knowledge as a baseline. 

5. Unfinished Business

If there were any topics left unresolved during the last board meeting, this is the time to address those topics as well as any developments or updates related to ongoing or older projects. 

6. New Business

Now that members have provided the important data and information to the board, it is time to discuss the future and any new projects or ideas that will help guide nonprofit awareness, provide greater outreach, create fundraising opportunities, increase donors and members, and anything else that can convert your nonprofit vision into reality.

7. Optional Topics

Having some flexible time near the end of the meeting is the perfect moment to explore any opportunities that come up or to have a candid discussion about any organizational problems that have arisen, such as staffing problems, or bylaws violations. This flex time also offers you a buffer in the event some topics take more time to cover than expected, which is often the case.

In addition, your trustees can also make use of this time to develop nonprofit board committees' best practices, which can serve as a gathering of input to find other ways to improve nonprofit strategies, make new nominations, or other nonprofit agenda features. 

how-to-write-the-optimal-nonprofit-board-meeting-agenda-optional-topicsMatt is typing out his next board meeting agenda right now!

For example, during the covid area, your team may want to consider whether to implement a work from home policy for nonprofit staff. 

Optional topics can vary greatly and are really dependent on whatever may be taking place within the organization at that moment in time. 

8. Guest Presentations

This is a specific type of optional event that you may hold from time to time as guest speakers from another company or outside entity are great resources for providing insights into the nonprofit sector and training for your board members on many aspects of their responsibilities. 

9. Next Meeting

As your agenda draws to a close, schedule the date and time for the next meeting and make people aware if they have any preparation responsibilities or tasks for next time. The meeting adjournment will follow.  

Pro Tip: Try to avoid giving a "tentative" date or time, as this prevents people from planning ahead, resulting in more no-shows than you may have otherwise. For best results, have a set date and time prepared well in advance to maximize attendance. 

how-to-write-the-optimal-nonprofit-board-meeting-agenda-example-templates

Example Templates

Here are some free pdf template downloads to make this process even easier:

Make any deletions or revisions you deem necessary to make them yours.

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