News and Views
March 17, 2022
Posted in: WATSON Views
Non-profit directors, got AGM on your mind? You’re probably thinking about whether it’s online (again) or if it’s a good chance to get together in person. This is important. But what else should you be thinking about?
AGM season is upon us, and if you’re on the board of a member-based organization, this is a critical time for member engagement and connection. Think beyond the procedural elements and consider these five ways you can make this year’s AGM a meaningful forum for dialogue.
- Reach beyond the rote. There are certain things that must be done at an AGM, but why stop there? Go beyond the formal requirements and use this time to communicate with the membership and key interest holders, about key successes and future direction. Share your assessment of impact, not just what was done but what that means to the communities you serve. Bring in a volunteer, donor, or participant to share their story. When else do you have all these people under one roof – real or virtual? Use it to your advantage.
- Engage your members. AGMs are a key interface with members. It is the main opportunity for members to interact with the board and leadership, and with one another. Keep this in mind and try to shift the focus from information delivery to dialogue. Brainstorm big issues, seek feedback on changes made and opportunities ahead, have directors facilitate small group discussions to hear from members directly. How can you use this opportunity to both share important information and seek input on key issues and future direction?
- Own it. It is important for the board to be visible. The chair plays a key role but there are other opportunities to bring the board in – consider a committee chair speaking to a project or a director speaking to a key initiative. AGMs are a venue where trust can be built and where the board needs to be visible.
- Anticipate and prepare. Consider the need to get ahead of potential issues and seek questions/submissions in advance. Anticipate tricky questions, points of challenge, and areas of tension. Strategize beforehand so the board and management are prepared with the information they need to really listen to members and respond in an informed and thoughtful way.
- Learn and do better. You seek feedback after each board meeting… right? Why not do the same at your AGM? Don’t overcomplicate it – what went well and what could we do differently next year, will suffice.
Like any meeting, a successful AGM requires intentional design. It might be the first in-person meeting in a few years. Or, as the third virtual AGM, an opportunity to do things differently. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start thinking about this important forum and designing a meeting that is interesting and engaging.
As always, we are here to help.