How to Run a Nonprofit Board Meeting

When you contemplate everything about your nonprofit organization that inspires you, board meetings probably don’t come to mind. They can drag on, covering the same data that no one really pays attention to anyway, and only become interesting when they bring up something absolutely terrifying, such as if you are way over budget. However, board meetings don’t necessarily have to be limited to an obligatory list of agenda items. As the executive director of your organization, you probably do a lot of things in public to wow people and advance your cause. You can do the same thing to run an exceptional nonprofit board meeting.

Feel Free to Chat

Just because board meetings are formal affairs does not mean that they need to be robotic. Taking some time to do a Q&A with your board chair or yourself can bring some interest and variety to your meetings. The board will love the chance to access to your store of knowledge and experiences, and that will give them certain sense of privilege. It can also be very liberating, since it opens up the meeting to discussions about issues that individual board members might be considering.

Bring Someone In

You don’t necessarily have to discuss the organization itself. In a board meeting, you can flesh out everyone’s idea of what you do and why by bringing in someone with experience relating to your mission. This can be an expert on a specific area connected with your organization, a client you have helped, or even a current funder. Having a guest speaker present at your meeting will add interest and expand everyone’s view of their purpose in the community.

Inspire the Board

Yes, a board meeting should report the day-to-day goings on for your organization. But it can be much more than that. You can take the opportunity to inspire your board members. Bring in some stories of people who have been helped by your organization. When you report, report on lives touched as well as funds raised. Go beyond the numbers to what those numbers truly mean for the community and for specific individuals. Reporting on how Sally was rescued from living on the street with her two young children is a lot more meaningful than simply reporting that x dollars were raised on such-and-such date for such-and-such cause.

Ultimately, you should make the meeting as human as possible. By bringing in different elements rather than just focusing on the bare bones of reports and numbers, you will elevate your board meetings to a much higher—and more meaningful—level.

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