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It’s about time: Don’t waste that of your board members

September 5, 2019 Stuart Mordfin, CPA, CGMA board, members

It’s about time: Don’t waste that of your board membersMost not-for-profit board members are unpaid volunteers. They’ve agreed to serve because they care about your mission and the impact your organization is making. You owe it to them to make the job as easy as possible — starting with well-organized board meetings that are only as long as necessary.

Setting the agenda

The key to effective board meetings is good planning. Once the meeting date is set, your executive director and board chair should prepare an agenda. To ensure the meeting will cover all pressing concerns, email board members to ask if there’s anything they want to add.

For each item, the agenda should provide a timetable and assign responsibility to specific members. Include at least one board vote to reinforce a sense of purpose and accomplishment, but be careful not to cram too much into your agenda. Otherwise, the meeting is likely to feel rushed and some items may need to be postponed to a future meeting.

Distribute a board packet at least one to two days before the meeting. This packet should consist of the agenda, minutes from the previous meeting and materials relevant to new agenda items, such as financial statements and project proposals.

Keeping things moving

Start with a short pre-meeting reception that allows members to chat. Some board members have little time to spare, but most will welcome the opportunity to get to know their colleagues. Staff should help facilitate communication by introducing any new members to the group and ensuring people mingle.

During the meeting itself, your executive director and board chair should stick to the agenda and keep things moving. This means imposing a time limit on discussions and calling time when necessary — particularly if one or two individuals are dominating the conversation.

Encourage a vote after a reasonable period. But if your organization requires a consensus (as opposed to a majority vote), the board may not be able to reach a decision in one meeting. If members need more time to think about or research an issue, postpone the decision to a future date and move on.
Finally, end the meeting on a positive note: Remind board members why they’re there and thank them for their time.

Following up

Board meetings can’t be effective if there’s no follow-up. Find answers and supporting materials for any questions that might have arisen during the meeting and make sure unresolved items are placed on the next meeting’s agenda.

Also ensure that board members are fulfilling their commitments to your organization and fellow members. If their busy schedules are impeding them, step in and help. If the issue continues, consider replacing the board member.

© 2019

Stuart Mordfin, CPA, CGMA

Written by Stuart Mordfin, CPA, CGMA

Stuart M. Mordfin has over 30 years of experience as a certified public accountant. He has worked with clients in such diverse industries as manufacturing, publishing, real estate development and operations, jewelry and other luxury products, retail, restaurants, a variety of professional service companies. In addition he has on numerous occasions worked as a court appointed accountant on receiverships, guardianships and bankruptcies. Stuart has developed and expanded his CPA practice through innovation, well-informed decision-making, and creative, proactive thinking. Stuart M. Mordfin joined the firm in 1987, and has been a partner since 1999. He became managing partner in 2004. Since his entrée into the firm, Stuart has lead the way for its expansion into financial planning services through the formation of Mordfin Financial & Business Advisors LLC. Stuart works with many family-owned businesses. Experiencing firsthand what it means to be an integral part of the family business, Stuart is able to offer a unique and valuable perspective to his clients. He is well qualified to assist family-owned businesses move from one generation to the next.

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