Effective meetings are critical for engaging family foundation board members. These convenings can provide the opportunity for family members and decision makers to discuss a variety of topics like values, grantmaking strategies, and learning agendas. The most useful and enjoyable board meetings usually consider the purpose, outcomes, process, and people involved. In the National Center for Family Philanthropy’s May 2022 webinar, Jason BelinkieBobbi Hapgood, and Holli Rivera discussed how to incorporate those components when developing effective board meetings. Here are important takeaways from the conversation.

The purpose of a board meeting is not necessarily obvious, especially if you have standard quarterly or bimonthly meetings on the schedule. During one meeting you may need to discuss governance policies, and during another you may need to talk about a newly proposed grantmaking focus. It’s important to take a step back and name the purpose in order to be clear and effective.

Keep these four suggestions from moderator Holli Rivera in mind when planning for effectiveness:

Prioritize: Given your purpose and foundation personality, prioritize what will be most impactful for the group.

Create Space: Think about where there is already agreement and use consent agenda to free up active space.

Be proactive: Knowing the dynamics and culture of the board, you may need to assign pre-work, have one-to-one conversations with board members to elicit initial reactions, talk through a sticky situation or allow them to “get their words out”.

Use Technology: Think about options that can make the work more efficient, or incorporate learning styles.

Read the full article about designing effective board meetings by Maya Diggs at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.