Monday, May 13, 2013

Tips for Sending a Great Board Packet to Your Trustees

My Secrets to Non-Profit Management Series is off and running, so for Secret #3, I thought I'd talk a little about every ED/CEO's periodic hell -- the Board of Director's Meeting Packet.

Do your board members feel like this guy in the photo?

Why is sending out a board packet so hellish?

Yes, it's a pain to gather all the info together, but the real hellish part is that I never know if the board members actually read it.  Of course, the reason I know this is because I serve on boards and I know that sometimes even the best board members don't crack open that document...

NOTE:  I admit nothing regarding any current or previous board upon which I may or may not have served regarding reading or not reading the blasted thing.

So, all kidding aside, how do we make the packet compelling?

Secret #3:

Shorten That Packet -- Your Board Meeting Packet Needs Just Enough (But Not Too Much) Info

In the old days (this means last century), the trend was to over-burden your board members with information -- truly, I used to mail out packets (thank GOD for email -- oh, the trees that met their maker in the name of non-profits) that were 3 or 4 inches thick -- including detailed reports from every staff person, multiple letters from donors, data sheets filled with jargon that they couldn't possibly understand, and more.

Don't do this, people!  Over time (and with help from past board members who actually read the things), I have gotten it down to this list:

  • Meeting Agenda
  • CEO report (Staff turns in their reports to me and I add and subtract and make it all into a few pages of fun and interesting -- yes, I'm the sole judge of that -- information.  I can discuss this further in another post, if anyone is interested -- just let me know.)
  • Minutes from the last board meeting and executive committee meeting
  • Current agency financials

Of course, sometimes additional things are included such as the annual report, the proposed agency annual budget, etc., but basically, this is all you need to send.

Email it to them about a week in advance.

Hope this helps you whittle away -- you'll be glad you did! 

More Secrets to come...

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