Agendas and Minutes

Agendas and minutes are the basic records of your actual meetings. Keep the corrected minutes and make them available for future reference. Such referencing is essential when there is a question about who said what at a meeting or the details of a particular vote. The minutes become legal documents of the organization. The collected documents need to be well preserved because they will become an excellent history of the organization.

The minutes of your annual meeting, the only official meeting actually required by most states, should be included in your required annual report to the state.

Agendas

An agenda is the list of topics to be covered at any meeting of the board — or of any committee of the board. In the future, the board may adopt specific rules for putting items on an agenda. At this stage, follow a basic form and modify it when necessary.

Many organizations keep a copy of all their meeting agendas and minutes in a spiral notebook, available to anyone in the organization who wishes to read through or examine the events of past meetings. While an electronic record is useful, having a permanent hard copy of your group's history will provide an easily accessible record.

Standardized Forms

Using standardized forms to establish your agenda, either as hard copy or as a template on your word processor, will make the task much easier and more streamlined.

The standardized form does not need to be elaborate. The form should have a place for the date and the normal parts of the meeting as headers. ou can then fill in the template with specific details and include items such as:

  • Special announcements and introduction of any guests

  • Approval of the minutes of the last meeting

  • Changes or adjustments to the agenda

  • Input from the audience or anyone other than board members

  • Officer and/or staff reports

  • Committee reports

  • Setting the date for the next meeting

Strongly consider a space on your agenda template to insert times, in minutes, to denote how much time to devote to an agenda item. Select a timekeeper to watch the clock throughout the meeting and enforce the time limits agreed to in the agenda. He or she should be comfortable speaking up, even interrupting the proceedings when the allotted time is up. This will help move the meeting along and assure everything is covered. Be sure that everyone agrees on the agenda before the meeting begins; all board members are encouraged to suggest additions or deletions, as well as times allotted for discussion.

Minutes

Unlike the agenda, the minutes of the meetings of an incorporated nonprofit organization are actually legal documents. They are the record of how your public organization conducts its business. Though it is extremely rare, there is always the outside possibility that someone will ask to review your minutes, which you are obligated to permit. As with the agenda, many organizations design a basic form to make the task of recording the meeting a little easier on the secretary, and they often make an audio recording for their archives.

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