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not for profit

How to run a successful AGM for your NFP organisation



Notepad for agenda kept on table in empty corporate conference room

A not-for-profit organisation’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) is an integral event in the calendar year.

AGMs are an ideal opportunity to share your not-for-profit organisation’s direction, financial health and overall performance with the broader community.

They’re also a key compliance measure, but it can take proper planning to run a successful AGM.

The timing of your AGM depends on factors such as how your organisation is registered and its constitution, as well as the location it operates in, but they are typically held within the months following EOFY.

Preparing for an AGM

Some organisations might use the AGM as a promotional event, a way to showcase the good work they’re doing. Others might just hold an AGM to tick ACNC compliance boxes.

Regardless of your AGM’s purpose, planning it in advance is fundamental to success.

Your constitution or regulator will stipulate the notice required to give to members, as well as the information needed in advance before the deadline, which gives you a good timeframe for your AGM planning.

Once you know the deadline to work towards, prepare all your financial reports and statements.

Include balance sheets, cash flow, income statements and any other documents that provide an overall view of the financial health of your organisation.

Any audits being conducted must be entirely completed before the information deadline. This means the board must have signed off the annual financial statements document and have the auditors’ statement appended as well.

Woman drinking while checking its calendar

Communicating the AGM to members and stakeholders

Whether you plan on using the AGM as a promotional act or to tick the necessary boxes, you must inform all your stakeholders well in advance to allow them plenty of time to prepare to attend.

External stakeholders often consider the AGM to be a highly significant event, allowing them the chance to air any concerns, ask questions and make important decisions about the support they provide.

So keep that in mind when you communicate the dates with them, you want to give them plenty of time to schedule it in their calendar.

Get the word out through different channels like email, social media and through your website, providing clear, correct details as to when the AGM is and what stakeholders can do to prepare.

Make sure you adequately prepare your colleagues and board members as well, so they have time to prepare their own statements and reports.

It can be hard to draw a membership crowd to an AGM so try to make it attractive – you could either make it simple to attend by hosting online if your constitution allows it, or combining a face-to-face event with another event or piggybacking on a conference or existing members meeting that will attract members or make it easy to stay on for an AGM. Snacks always help too.

meeting in a board room

Recruiting new board members

Another crucial part of your AGM will be conducting elections for new board members. Directors are integral to a not-for-profit’s strategic direction, overseeing operations and maintaining the mission and values.

Your AGM is an excellent opportunity to bring new life onto the board, utilising the experiences and perspectives of new directors and supporting board diversity.

The process of nominating and electing new members should begin well before the AGM to ensure you are aware of how many Board member terms end this year and that you identify the best potential candidates with the skills and commitment required to serve on your board.

Every NFP will have their own method of board recruitment, which may include reaching out to existing board directors, stakeholders or members of your organisation’s broader community network.

Regardless of how your organisation searches, once you’ve identified and vetted potential candidates, you can invite them to interview with the board. This helps you see how candidates might fit in with the organisation’s overall culture and ensure they’re a good fit for the board.

During the AGM

Each organisation will run their AGM differently. However, you should look to include items like:

  • Approval of previous AGM minutes
  • Review and approval of financial statements
  • Review and discussion of the strategic plan
  • Any other business

Nominations and elections of new board members take centre stage in an AGM. Typically, the nominations committee will present potential applications and nominated candidates to those in attendance. Members might also be able to nominate potential candidates who are in attendance. Your constitution will guide you on the precise process for your organisation.

Once you’ve narrowed your candidate list, voting can begin. The specifics of how this is conducted will vary depending on your organisation, but typically boards manage voting efficiently through a ballot process before the AGM, with the results then announced during the meeting.

Newly-elected board members can be invited to introduce themselves during the AGM, sharing their experience, background and suitability. This formality helps provide additional information to members.

The art of AGMs

Holding successful AGMs comes with practice, offering an open forum to raise concerns, address issues and solidify a not-for-profit and all its members in its mission, purpose and values.

AGMs can require a lot of planning to make them successful, so it’s good to keep their purpose in mind, that is; to provide a forum for you to meet, reflect and plan on the continuing success of the organisation.

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