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Nonprofit Board Meeting Hacks

Board meetings are a lot of work. Many nonprofit leaders report that they spend almost 20% of their time preparing for and attending board meetings and the associated committee meetings.

Do any of these seem familiar?

  • Do you feel like you’re putting on a special event every month?

  • Do your board members expect to be entertained with the latest razzle-dazzle power point and pie charts?

  • Do they expect refreshments and packets of paper to shuffle through, but not read?

  • Do you and the staff spend more time preparing for board meetings than your actual work?

If you’re nodding your head, then read on for my Nonprofit Board Meeting Hacks.

Hack #1: Consent Agenda

To begin to use a consent agenda the board must adopt a rule of order allowing for the consent agenda process. Agenda items that are non-controversial and/or routine are part of this process. Most common items to include are:

  • Meeting minutes

  • Financial reports

  • Executive Director’s report

  • Program and/or committee reports

Board members should receive the agenda and all documents well ahead (at least one week) of the board meeting so that they will have time to read the materials and be prepared to vote at the meeting.

A consent agenda creates time during the board meeting for strategic thinking, securing financial resources, and planning for the future.

Hack #2: Pre-meeting with board chair

This meeting is important. At first, you may think, not another meeting! But, this is where the Executive Director or other senior leadership team member can prepare the chair to run an effective and efficient meeting. Let them know about any potential controversies or challenges like a financial shortfall or client complaints and help them prepare a response.

Go through the financials, reports and agenda to make sure they have no questions. Together, you can anticipate questions that may be asked by board members and be ready to answer them.

Hack #3: Time guidelines for each section of the agenda

This works only if the chair or whoever runs the meeting sticks to the allotted time per section. Of course, there are always exceptions, but there should be few. Along with time guidelines a template to record board minutes is also helpful to document what’s required and not every word spoken.

Hack #4: Quarterly board meetings

Having several weeks between board meetings allows the board committee structure to work. Active committees engage board members on a deeper level than perfunctory board meetings.

Board members want to do their best work possible for the nonprofit organization they serve. Your guidance and board training can help the achieve that.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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