By On Call Attorney Maxwell Charles Livingston

For many Non Profit organizations, it’s difficult for the directors to know how best to run board meetings. Here are 12 steps to use as a guideline:

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1. Create an agenda that resonates with what your company must accomplish.


Once all updates and reminders are completed, this means raising new issues to advance the needs of the company. For example, for a company worried about sufficient fundraising, an agenda may consist of (a) grant applications to public and private grantors, (b) creative fundraisers, (c) ways to operate on a lower budget—for the time-being, (d) online fundraising, and (e) press-releases. At the very least that would address one major issue of the company. The agenda would typically address as many issues as feasible, so the remaining issues would be addressed hereafter.

2. Notify anticipated meeting-participants well in advance of the meeting.


With advanced notice, they have an opportunity to prepare and either add to the agenda or suggest alterations to the agenda. Two weeks notice is typically considered sufficient. Attach the initial agenda to the notice.

3. Leave space between agenda items, so board members can take notes directly on the agenda.


Make sure that you send a copy of the “official agenda” to each member, especially if it has been altered since the initial agenda.

4. Set up a professional meeting space.


Print enough copies of the agenda to place one on each spot on the table, prior to the meeting. You should also prepare drinks and snacks for members, which you can place in the center of the table. If someone is appearing by phone or electronically, make sure they are following along with the official agenda and not the initial agenda.

5. Begin the meeting by reading the secretary’s Minutes from the previous meeting.


Give each member an opportunity to approve or to suggest an alteration. If there is an alteration suggested make sure the other members agree to alter the Minutes in the fashion suggested.

6. Ask all members and committees whether anyone who is presenting at the meeting needs to leave early or will take a particularly long time.


People leaving early should go first, and those expected to take a long time may be asked to speak last and be limited to a set time, based on how much time remains before they begin speaking.

7. Ask for updates from members and committees.


As per above, if someone must leave early or is expected to take a long time presenting, they will go first or last (respectively). Otherwise, the order will be based on who was assigned specific tasks in the last meeting.

8. Ask whether any reports have been prepared by any of the committees.

9. Appoint new committees.


These new committees will handle issues posed in the current meeting or ones that remain unresolved from the previous meeting.

10. Review the Secretary’s Minutes for any inconsistencies.


You’ll also want the Secretary to verify when each member should expect to receive a copy of the Minutes.

11. Discuss possible ideas for the next meeting.


This is also a good time to encourage other members to review the initial agenda to propose additions or changes.

12. Have each member sign a sheet indicating they were present for the meeting.


For any member who leaves early, indicate that he or she must sign this upon leaving. The header of this sheet should include the date, time, meeting place, and title for the meeting. Keep in mind that these are just basic guidelines.

It’s always best to speak to a business lawyer if you have any questions.

Maxwell LivingstonMaxwell Charles Livingston is a Wisconsin lawyer based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, or in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Living by the motto "relentless.respectful.results", Max takes a variety of transactional and litigation cases throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, focusing on business, nonprofit, real estate, family, and estate planning cases. Max is licensed in all state and federal Wisconsin Courts, including in all Wisconsin bankruptcy courts.

Get started Start Your Non-Profit Answer some questions. We’ll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Non-Profit Answer some questions. We’ll take care of the rest.