An effective board meeting starts with an agenda that gives context and inspires conversation for the whole group. A well-crafted agenda for board meetings will translate into minutes that are concise and clear, yet convey the full scope of the discussion. This is the case even if the minute’s order changes the original agenda items or elaborate on them.

The top of the board meeting agenda should include a brief introduction and make it clear that this is an important business meeting with significant responsibilities for the organization. This will set the tone for subsequent meetings and ensure everyone is aware of their role and responsibility.

After the introduction, review any previous minutes and then proceed to the report presentations. For example, executive director reports or program committees. Over time, you will gain a better understanding of how long these reports will take and you can adjust the time allotted to them.

Now is the time to discuss any new projects, initiatives, or anything else that can help your nonprofit increase awareness, attract more members and donors, provide more opportunities for volunteers, and reach its big hairy audacious goal. It is also good to leave a little flexibility near the end for unforeseen topics that may arise or for brief questions that the board wants to address prior to the meeting is over. This gives the board the opportunity to be more strategic in its approach to these issues and will help reduce the amount of time that is spent on routine tasks such as reporting and «have to’s» (like the approval of minutes of the previous meeting as well as financial review. ).