6 Nonprofit Meeting Rules You Need to Run More Efficient Meetings

Nonprofit Organization Business Meeting Rules Explained and Why You Need Them

Have you ever attended a nonprofit meeting and wondered what it was all about? Did you feel like you left without anything worth noting? There likely did not seem to be any order in how the meeting was being run, right? You probably weren’t sure who was in charge.

This is an exaggeration. It can happen if you do not stick to business meeting rules.

Nonprofit organizations hold meetings with stakeholders. It is critical to prepare so that everything runs smoothly. To do so, business meetings should conform to the Roberts rules of order or parliamentary procedures. But what does it mean, and why do we need it?

Understanding business meeting rules

The business meeting rules go back to 1876, with the publishing of Robert’s Rules of Order. The author, Henry Martin Robert, was a US Army officer. He took learnings from congress to come up with rules that could apply to non-legislative settings.

You can now find the manual in schools, trade unions, churches, and nonprofit organizations. The guide establishes a democratic approach where every member carries equal weight and outlines every step in running meetings.

What are the benefits of implementing meeting rules?

Organizations can achieve a lot by following the rules. Some benefits are:

– The rules establish expectations and procedures

– Every meeting participant knows their roles

– Due to the democratic nature of the processes, everyone has a voice. No one should be afraid to share their opinions on any issues

– Processes like motions and voting go smoother, resulting in less conflict or confusion

– There is higher efficiency in running meetings

Taking your nonprofit meeting online

There have been many changes since the establishment of the business rules. Yet, the essential elements that made sense 145 years ago are still applicable in modern settings. Nonprofits can have discussions with people from all over the world.

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All you need is the right tools and internet connectivity. Platforms like Google have fantastic tools for nonprofits. Google Meet gives access to video conferencing facilities. Nonprofits can host hundreds of participants at one go.

Google for nonprofits is another fantastic platform. It is free for such organizations. Check the eligibility criteria to know whether your nonprofit qualifies.

The G-suite provides tools that help with document preparation and storage. Meeting participants can access the documents from cloud storage. YouTube for nonprofits provides a way to showcase activities using video content.

What meeting rules should your nonprofit implement?

Even with all the changes due to technology, some things remain constant. Nonprofits must adhere to the fundamentals set out in the business meeting rules. It doesn’t matter whether the meetings are happening online or offline. Everyone must abide by them.

So what are these rules?

1. Preparing for meetings to save time and maintain order

Moderators and participants must prepare well in advance for the meeting. They should know the topics, speaker, and order of processes. All this information will go into the agenda. Allocating enough time for each can help avoid time wastage.

2. Order of business to move things along

A formal meeting must center on a specific agenda. It should highlight the goals and plan of action. The nonprofit can prioritize the items to make it easier to go through them.

The basic rules are:

Read and approve the previous meetings’ minutes

– Report presented by the various committees

– Any special orders

– General orders and unfinished business

– New business

If there is no pending business from the previous session, the team moves on to the current issues. Each participating member must have a copy of the agenda document ahead of time.

3. A quorum for accountability and decision making

Quorum is the least number of people who should be in attendance. The participants should be representative of a larger group.

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The chair determines if those in attendance meet the minimum order rule. If the number does not meet the quorum limit, the chair can reschedule or call off the discussion.

A quorum may have nothing to do with the number of people who attend the meeting. The organization’s rules may be that they only look at the number of board members who attend.

4. Making motions for discussion and idea generation

Motions are a way of bringing up new business during the meeting. A participant makes a motion. The moderator must recognize that a member has spoken.

The moderator will then call on the participants to second the motion. If no one does, the motion dies. If someone seconds it, the moderator notes it down, and it moves on to the discussion stage.

Members will then have an opportunity to vote on whether to pass the motion or not. There is also the freedom to revisit or renew the motion if the team could not reach unanimous consent.

There must be order in how they handle the motion and discussions. Anyone who wants to speak needs to state their intention and wait for the moderator to give permission to speak.

A good moderator must also give timelines for each process. Sticking to timelines ensures that the process moves.

5. Voting for decision-making purposes

Voting is critical for decision-making. Like in the case of the motion, a participant or two must second the topic. Every member in attendance has the right to one vote. If more than half the members agree, it makes up the majority vote.

The passing of decisions depends on the rules of the nonprofit organization. A majority vote could, for example, mean two-thirds representation at least.

Voting rules are specific to each organization. Some allow active participants to take part. Others leave it to board members only.

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Once there is consensus in voting and no other business, the moderator will end the meeting. Like in the case of the motion, one of the participants has to second the closing.

6. Minutes for record-keeping

It is critical to have records of everything that happens during the meeting. That comes in the form of minutes. They give an overview or simple explanation of everything.

Proper minutes should highlight the date, time, and list of participants. It also shows any actions, resolutions, and a summary of reports. If there was any conflict, that must be in the document as well.

Approval of the minutes will happen in the next meeting.

Final thoughts

Business meeting rules provide order and help you run sessions smoothly and efficiently. Every participant is clear on their roles and expectations. Abiding by the rules makes it easier to pass motions, discuss, and vote on them. Additionally, you can leverage your business plan to help keep your goals, strategy, and performance in mind throughout each meeting.

Without the rules, meetings may end up in chaos. Crucial decision-making on issues affecting the organization will not be possible. By implementing them, you can keep your nonprofit organization on track and focus on what’s important—your mission.

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