07 Jan

Planning Successful Nonprofit Board Meetings

Part of our duty to nonprofit board members is to ensure that their valuable and donated time is both respected and well-spent. To that end, successful board leadership requires careful planning for, execution of and follow-up from board meetings.

Meeting time primarily should be spent by board members learning about, discussing and deciding issues of governance. Materials that are purely updates are best sent out in written form ahead of time with an opportunity for high level summary and questions and answers to occur at the board meeting. Below are some questions for Presidents and Executive Directors to consider regarding their board meetings.

  • What is the meeting date and has it been communicated to and confirmed with board members?
  • Have the logistical arrangements (room, set-up, a/v, food etc.) been made?
  • Is there an overall theme for this meeting?
  • Do we want to bring in any outside speakers or guests?
  • What are the key governance issues being presented and what are the actions required by the board (for example, approve the budget, hire a new executive, adopt a strategic plan etc.)?
  • What are the agenda items?
  • What committees will be presenting and have the committee chairs been asked and confirmed their participation?
  • When will the agenda and materials be sent out?
  • What materials are required to be sent out prior to the meeting? These materials often include the minutes from the prior meeting, committee reports, financials and anything you want board members to have time to read and digest prior to the meeting.
  • What materials are required to be handed out at the meeting? These materials may include dashboard numbers, fundraising lists and notes etc.
  • At the meeting, who will take notes?
  • When will the minutes be distributed?
  • After the meeting, how will follow-up items be addressed?

I suggest that Presidents and Executive Directors should meet and discuss their upcoming meetings at least two weeks beforehand to ensure they have plenty of time for organizing a meeting that members feel is informative and productive.

To your success,

Nanette Fridman
P.S.  My new book, On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service, is now available on Amazon. For orders of 20 of more, please email me directly for special rates at

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