One of the most common complaints I hear about nonprofit Board meetings is that they are long, dull, and boring.

I’ll have to agree.  I’ve sat through a few that were mind-numbing.  Meetings like this will run off good Board members in a flash.

So how do you change it?

First, use a consent agenda.

This is a way of structuring your meeting so that you can handle the routine things quickly.

For example, on your consent agenda, include things like

  • minutes
  • finance report
  • committee reports
  • Executive Director report

All these things must be in writing and should be sent to Board members several days before the meeting.  It is each Board member’s responsibility to read the items before the meeting.  At the meeting, all these items are voted on at once.

If anyone wants to discuss a particular item, that item is pulled off the consent agenda and placed on the table for discussion.  Otherwise, there’s only one motion to approve (instead of individual motions for each item) and one vote.

This alone can save you tons of time!

The rest of your Board meeting should include

1. Items needing conversation among Board leaders, Board members, and staff

2. Items needing a decision or a vote

3. Big-picture thinking and planning

If you can stay focused on those things that matter to Board members (like big-picture thinking) and make sure each Board member is involved in the conversation, you’ll have a much more satisfying experience at your Board meetings.



  1. Sandy, you are so on!! Concent agendas represent lots of time saved. You are so very correct in the importance of simplifying tasks for your nonprofit boards. Since now is the end of the fiscal year for some, start out fresh by incorporating the process of a consent agenda with your very first Board Orientation meeting. Remember to report back to us how it works out. Charlaine Hood

  2. Also, get the agenda out to Board members at least 1 week before the meeting, and make it a 1 page agenda. Call and follow up and see if they read it the day after.

    This can help a lot of people read your agenda before they get there.


    • Yep, you’re right. Actually, it’s critical with a consent agenda to get the materials to the Board members several days in advance so they can be prepared when meeting time rolls around.


  3. I absolutely could not possible agree with you more about consent agendas! You are SO on target!!!!! If your email got even 1 board to change to consent agendas, it was well work it!!!! Thank you!!!

    Rebecca Henderson

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