There is no getting around it, nonprofit groups have a lot of meetings. Activities like fundraising and programs simply take a lot of time to plan with a dedicated group of people. That said, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you make the most of your time together and that your meeting is viewed as a success and not a time sucker.
Once you have a reason to meet, put together an agenda. An agenda could be a formal one-page, or two-page that can be used to structure the meeting. When people get together there may be a lot of chit chat and that is important as well. You want people to feel connected, so you might even set aside a few minutes beforehand for socializing or even organize a team building activity. A successful meeting should be business-like but maybe not ALL business.
Be on Time
It is important for everyone to respect one another’s time. Have a starting time and an ending time. In general, most meetings can be held within an hours’ time. If a meeting is going to be longer or shorter, make sure that everyone invited is well informed.
For a first nonprofit meeting it’s best to stick to one or maybe two topics. Make sure the group is well introduced and that everyone is familiar with your mission and activities. An agenda will help you stay focused. If you are leading the meeting, make sure you are sticking to the topics that you included on the agenda. If a conversation strays in another direction, try to steer it back to what you are supposed to be meeting about.
A big complaint about meetings is that they are a drain on time. Not only does the meeting take time but traveling back and forth to a meeting can become cumbersome, especially for volunteers. Make the most out of video conferencing or even let people call in to the meeting on their phones. Nothing is a substitute for face-to-face interactions but a video or call-in now and then can really be a time saver.
A second use for technology is to share information with your group. Software like MoneyMinder can help you put together useful templates to show performance, transactions and more. Not having to design these spreadsheets is a huge time saver for yourself and your attendees will appreciate a slick presentation.
Stick with these tips and not only will your first nonprofit meeting be a success but you will be on the right track to many successful meetings in the future.