A meeting for a board of directors should serve a purpose. Nonprofit boards do NOT exist in name only. It is important that board members are not simply going through the motions of getting together, rubber-stamping staff decisions and working through a flat and unproductive agenda. Board meeting topics need to be relevant and have an urgency and importance to the governance of the organization.
Who decides what will be discussed at board meetings? Various organizations address this issue differently. Some organizations allow executive staff to set the agenda for a board meeting. Others expect the board chair or president to come up with the agenda and meeting topics and still others may utilize an executive committee of the board to meet prior to board meetings to design the agenda. Regardless of who and how the meeting agenda is decided, it is important to make sure that topics have relevancy to the governing of the agency or organization.
While a basic structure to board meetings can be helpful, there does need to be room in the agenda for new business, current events and program updates. There also needs to be room to discuss future events and topics instead of simply reporting on events and activities that have already happened. The most useful and productive boards are those where members have a valid reason to meet and where individuals are asked to participate in real decision-making. Good decision makers, however, must be informed.
Look over the recent agendas for board of directors’ meetings and ask yourself if they are pertinent to the actual operating of the nonprofit organization or agency? Could the organization continue on just fine whether the board meets and covers topics or not? Board members are normally chosen for their commitment, expertise and passion for the organization’s mission and it is a shame to waste that on rubber-stamp topics and irrelevant meetings.