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How to improve trustee meetings with IT

Or how to use IT to improve information sharing between trustees.

Meetings are a place where people share, create and innovate. Sound familiar? I didn’t think so. It can seem as if half the time is spent by people trying to find out what everyone else is doing. You get sent the papers a few days beforehand, but you don’t bother to really read them – so you spend a vast chunk of time making sure everybody is on that awful cliché of the “same page”. Oh how lovely it would be to never hear such an insipid phrase again, I hear you say. Well let’s see if this guide can help.

Things you'll need

  • A board of trustees
1

Before the meeting

  • Choosing a time that suits all trustees can be a thankless task, with a lot of back and forth on dates - all of which, can be a bit of a pain in the cranium. Don’t worry though, technology is there to assist our simple little minds. Use an online tool like Doodle (http://www.doodle.com/) to find the best date for everyone. Simply put in all of the possible dates, set up a poll, send the link around to everyone required and ask them to tick the dates they can make.
  • Sending out the agenda to your trustees’ inboxes and then relying on them to print it off and take the papers to the meeting, should be elementary, but don't hold your breath. You should consider using an online store, like: Google Docs (https://docs.google.com/). It is free to use and could be a place to store all of your documents in one place. Having them online means that there is always a definitive version and you know they haven't been lost. You can also allow people to collaborate on creating the document, for example adding their own agenda items or updates.
  • Why not create a Google Account (https://www.google.com/accounts/) for your trustee board? It will help you do some of the other things below.
2

During the meeting

  • If one of your trustees can't physically make the meeting then why not try setting up a web call? Skype (www.skype.com) is free (when the two or more people talking all have Skype on their computer) and easy to use. All it requires is the users to download something from the Skype website, which will need to be done in advance of the meeting.
  • Use your Google Docs account to create a document at the time of the meeting to record any action points. They will be available immediately for everyone to access.
  • If you prefer to record your actions in a spreadsheet format then you can do that in Google Docs too.
3

After the meeting

There are a number of ways you can discuss issues before (or after) a meeting:

  • Adding comments to a document: With documents saved on Google Docs, anyone with permission can add their comments. All versions of the document will be available.
  • Set up an email list: You could set up an email group for the trustee board so that by sending an email to one address, it automatically sends the message to everyone in the group.
  • Taking part in an online chat: You could set up a discussion group to discuss any issues. If all of your trustees are on Facebook then set up a private group (http://www.facebook.com/groups/) or alternatively try Yammer or Slack. For a larger organisation you could invest in Huddle which will store documents as well as host discussions.
  • Face to face/virtual chat: Use your Skype account to have a chat with your fellow trustees outside of the meeting. If you don't want to have a call with them then you can make use of the typed chat facility or even use the chat on Facebook (www.facebook.com) if you have an account.
4

Your tips

What do you do to make sure meetings run smoothly? Please share your tips here by editing this how-to and adding your tips to this section.

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Page last edited Apr 28, 2017 History

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