What advance preparation should I do for foundation board meetings?

Agendas can be detailed or broad brushstrokes, but they always help organize the flow of the meeting and keep the meeting on time and everyone on target. A good agenda also contributes to the discussion itself, keeping the topics coherent and interesting. An agenda can clarify when the board is being asked to advise and when it needs to give—or withhold—approval.

Ask committee leaders and other board members if they would like to see particular topics on the agenda. Allow time for constructive, free discussion around important issues. Some boards hold one meeting each year for long-range planning, another for grantmaking decisions, and a third for financial review and discussions.

A consent agenda, which includes routine actions requiring the board’s approval but not necessarily discussion, can make meetings more efficient. All items on the consent agenda, such as approving previous meeting minutes and committee reports, are grouped together, so require only a single motion and vote for approval. A board member can ask to have any item removed from the consent agenda and added to the regular agenda if he or she desires further discussion on the topic.

Make a habit of including time for board development, which can include topics such as board member responsibilities, how to read financial statements, or legal obligations. It also is helpful to set time frames for each item on the agenda and keep track of time during the meeting.

Send meeting materials to board members in advance of meetings via hard copies, e-mail attachments, or a board portal. Meeting materials should contain the agenda and any information pertinent to decisions to be made at the meeting, such as grant proposals or reports.

Following a few legal requirements, plus tried-and-true strategies, can create an environment and a process for efficient, enjoyable foundation board meetings. Keep reading >>

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