Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 16, 2018

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5 Keys to Running Great Nonprofit Meetings

by Merle Benny

A well planned and well run meeting is as wonderful as it is rare. I'm sure you have suffered through many long, boring ones. The culprit is generally the person who is running the meeting. He may have failed to create an agenda, didn't follow it or just couldn't control the meeting. You don't want to be guilty of any of these mistakes.

Imagine that everyone comes to your meetings looking forward to them and leaves feeling accomplished! You can make that possible by following a few simple steps. With some advance planning, in a short time, you can accomplish large amounts of work, make decisions and move forward.

The objective of a meeting is to bring together the right people to share ideas and make decisions. Remember the anthropologist Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." When you have decisions to make, want to generate new ideas, move your organization forward or accomplish a task, a meeting is the perfect setting.

Here are the 5 keys to a successful meeting:

  1. Have a specific start and end time - and start on time!

  2. Have an agenda. Your agenda should be distributed in advance and should include: the name of the Team that is meeting, the purpose of the meeting, a list of participants, the start and end time and a list of the presentations/topics of discussion (be sure that each team member knows before they get this agenda what will be expected of them)

  3. Follow the agenda. You may find reason to wander from it but as the Team Leader you want to maintain control. If you feel it is appropriate to cover something else, let the group know that.

  4. End (on time) with a list of action items including who is responsible, when the action should be completed and when the Team will meet again.

  5. Follow up with a written (email) summary. Include all accomplishments, giving credit where it is due, the action list and the date of the next scheduled meeting.

Be creative when planning meetings. Food is a natural draw but you can try other ideas. Have a challenge ready for early arrivals. Select an unusual venue or time. Play background music. Create a meeting room that's conducive to creativity (according to an article in today's pager, that would be a blue room) with comfortable chairs, small toys, lots of wall space, large sheets of paper for idea sharing and bright colors.

Change your meetings from tedium to stimulation and from chaos to accomplishment. It just takes some advanced planning and a little imagination and you'll have people looking forward to your meetings.

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About the Author:

Merle Benny is a published author and has recently released The Winner's Circle, a practical, easy-to-use program for nonprofit success and growth. It can be found at

With over 25 years marketing and management experience, as well as being a lifelong volunteer, Merle now works exclusively with nonprofits to help them grow and succeed. Her creative solutions for nonprofit organizations have included events, websites, videos, branding, annual reports, brochures and development. She provides free ideas, tips and tools for nonprofit leaders at:

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