By Mel and Pearl Shaw
We recently facilitated two board meetings for two very different types of organizations. One was an institution is over 100 years old with a multimillion dollar budget. The other was an emerging grassroots, community-based organization. At both meetings, the focus was fundraising and board members were actively engaged.
They had suggestions about how to make or improve the case for support; who to engage as leadership level volunteers; how to develop, explore or advance meaningful partnerships; and how to strengthen the board. Decisions were made regarding committees, timeframes, and next steps. Another similarity between the two: both agreed that board giving was a must, and that board members should take the lead in raising funds.
We felt energized leaving both meetings. We were optimistic about actions that board members would take, and the potential for each board to move their respective organization forward. Yet when we reviewed the minutes for each meeting we were left uninspired.
What? Minutes should be inspiring? Well, we think so. When they are simply a record of what was said, you have to read through the contents in their entirety and highlight the action items in order to create an easy-to-use record of next steps that includes who agreed to do what by when. Our suggestion: Record minutes in a way that works with the history, culture and requirements of your organization or institution. Supplement these with a list of next steps and agreements that clearly communicates decisions made and work to be accomplished, including who is responsible for each task and the timeframe. Email these to all participants within 48 hours. If you have the capacity, you may want to personalize each message so it lists the members’ commitments and related timeframes directly in the body of the email for easy access.
We believe that board members have a critical role in fundraising that extends beyond the board meeting. When members quickly receive a message focused on next steps they can get into action and draw on the momentum created during the board meeting. Here are three other ways that user-friendly minutes help advance fundraising.
- Minutes neutralize subjectivity. People may recall things differently, and memories can slip, especially if the board is meeting monthly or quarterly.
- Minutes give your organization legitimacy. They reinforce accountability and transparency by documenting agreements. They make visible any tasks that remain undone and they mitigate against fundraising “stall.”
- Minutes help you stay focused. They make sure you have consistent progress in spite of things that come up between meetings. They create a sense of urgency. Those who attended can quickly see what they are responsible for and begin taking action so tasks can be completed on time.
Distributing timely minutes is a momentum builder. It says the meeting was important and you must keep moving forward. It also indicates how well the organization is being managed.
For more fundraising and nonprofit management suggestions, visit www.saadandshaw.com. When you are ready to work with fundraising counsel, call us at (901) 522-8727.