No matter how you calculate it, board meetings are expensive. You spend hours recruiting members, keeping people up-to-date, preparing for, attending, and doing follow-up tasks. And it’s not just you. Between preparation, driving, attending, and returning to homes or offices, your board member devotes at least half a day to each meeting.
How can you make your meetings worthy of all of these investments? Think of them as mini-special events. Adopt the following guidelines:
Plan meetings for ninety-minutes or less. This keeps energy high and inspires focus.
At most, request three quality decisions per meeting. Which three decisions are the most important this month? For help organizing priorities, adopt this exercise.
To achieve your objectives, organize agenda items in a logical sequence. For instance, discuss plans to receive planned gifts before discussing a workshop on wills. Instead of just listing what needs to be discussed, focus on the outcome you need and label items accordingly. For example, discuss opening a new site becomes, decide the next step on opening a new site.
Indicate time estimates on the agenda. Announcing how long you will commit to an item indicates priorities and promotes peer sanctioning of the verbose.
Evaluate the logic of your time investments. All things being equal, keep discussions brief about a special event that will net $5,000. Invest more time to discuss a $50,000 corporate gift prospect.
Establish tactics for each agenda item. How will you quickly frame each topic? What questions will you ask? Predict what questions the board may ask. Plan your answers.
Include one opportunity for board members to hold one-on-one conversations with others. Adding a group exercise may seem like a surefire way to torpedo your timeframe. However, directed five-minute conversations build relationships, are enjoyable, and precede insightful group discussions. Everyone starts your group discussion knowing the opinion of at least one other person on a topic.
Study your draft agenda from a macro viewpoint. Are the issues and questions raised strategic or management-oriented? Unless you seek management help, adjust your questions to reflect strategy. For more, watch How to Help Your Nonprofit Board Stay in the Governance Lane.
As a nonprofit leader, you can help your board maximize the benefit they make for your nonprofit. Plan your meetings and create gold. Print out this list and keep it in your board agenda file.
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