New to a committee? Found it a mess? Here’s the first 4 things you need to do!

Committee reflects the organization

There is probably nothing more mortifying than entering a dysfunctional committee in charge of an organization. It is a reflection of the organization. A quick look at how the committee is would give you a good idea of how the whole organization runs. If you are new to a committee that has devolved into a mess, then this is an advantage. Having someone new, most often, provides fresh ideas and programs into the table compared to letting someone who is already dragged into the mess fix the problem.

How do you fix the mess?

Here are the first 3 things that you need to work to jumpstart your efforts of salvaging a dysfunctional committee:

1. Evaluate roles

One of the main reasons why committees fall from being effective and efficient is because of its members lack of role responsibilities. They might not have the proper set of skills and but commitment with a set of responsibilities will work wonders.

2. Review the strategic plan

Review the purpose of the organization to the group’s goals and targets. Are they still aligned? Bring the focus back to the purpose and ensure it is clear to all members via a written strategic plan or at minimum goals and expected outcomes.

3. Work the Agenda

Check on how the next meeting runs and observe if the agenda covers the strategic goals. If it isn’t followed properly then set guidelines and time frames to ensure that everyone follows the agenda. After the meeting follow up on action items that were discussed to ensure progress is made.

4. Do small changes

It is always hard to make big changes, so make sure you take small steps first. Ensure each step is in the direction of your goals. Things take time, but with consistent small steps they can yield big positive results.

Responsibilities of a Secretary on an Incorporated Association in Queensland

An association secretary is not to be confused with the office secretarial work. An office secretary is someone who is employed to assist with correspondence, keep records, make appointments and carry out confidential or similar tasks. The word itself was derived from the Latin word “secretaries” which means “confidential officer”. When talking about a association secretary we are referring to the duties like a company secretary which in essence is making sure records are correct for the company.

Responsibilities of a secretary on an incorporated association in Queensland

In an incorporated association in Queensland, a secretary’s duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • keeping the register of members
  • sending and receiving letters, emails or other documents
  • advising the president or treasurer about urgent matters that arise from letters or other documents
  • taking nominations for the committee
  • telling members about meetings by giving plenty of advance notices
  • calling and convening meetings
  • arranging the meeting venues
  • preparing meeting agendas
  • gathering and presenting relevant documents
  • taking and keeping minutes of meetings
  • making the minutes available to members and other related tasks

Secretaries can either do this manually using hard copy paper works or virtually via computer software designed to automate general and specialized tasks.

For further reading see:

https://www.qld.gov.au/law/laws-regulated-industries-and-accountability/queensland-laws-and-regulations/associations-charities-and-non-for-profits/incorporated-associations/running-an-incorporated-association/incorporated-association-management-committee/what-committee-does/

https://publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/28652d53-7a53-4690-afd6-4abc77a2c7d7/resource/5a17161f-2866-4c2c-8e03-37fc0f6512f8/download/incorporatedassociationsmartguide.pdf

How to Measure Meeting Effectiveness

Meetings are essential to any organization especially to associations and not-for-profit management committee and boards. This is the breeding ground for innovation and decision making. They consume a significant amount of time as well which is why improving how it is done is equally important. Measuring the effectiveness of a meeting is a powerful way to make sound decisions and wise use of time. It is also a useful tool in improving the meeting experience for the benefit of the organization and for its members.

Metrics

Deciding which metrics to use during the evaluation of the effectiveness of your meeting can be tricky. Starting somewhere is better than not starting and it can be evolved overtime. Here are basic ways on how to measure the effectiveness of your meetings:

1. Survey and Feedback Forms

Start by using simple survey forms that are distributed and answered by the members of the meeting. This is a good way to gauge the sentiments of your attendees. You may place the following questions or points in your form:

  • What is the main goal of the meeting
  • Rate the place, time and agenda
  • What will you do differently after the meeting
  • What do you think are the benefits of the meeting
  • Comments and suggestions

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2. Action Items

During the meeting, action items will be discussed with deadlines. You may use this time frame as gauge whether the meeting was effective if the action items were carried out on the specified deadline. Good tracking the status, following up and completion of action items, is a clear indicator of effective meetings resulting in positive action.

3. Attendance

Attendance is a metric itself. If you have a large membership, high engagement of your members by attending meetings is a good indicator on how much value members put on the meeting. For small groups, up to 10, you should really be getting full attendance. With meetings of groups up to 30, 80% attendance is a good target. Checking the arrival time of the attendees versus the starting time of the meeting can also be telling.

4. Agenda

Note the number of topics discussed that weren’t related to the agenda and how well the agenda was followed. If topics are constantly brought up that are not on the agenda then it is a sign that the proposed agenda isn’t covering what people are concerned about, or that discussion is not be controlled adding unnecessary time to the meetings.

Do All Motions Need To Be Moved And Seconded?

The question of “do all motions need to be moved and seconded?” is quite common. The answer is not absolute for all. The reality is that it is customary to move and second motions. But then again it will all depend on the governing rules and regulations of your organization.

If your organization clearly states in its rules and regulations that a seconder is necessary then this must be practiced, otherwise, there is no need to do so.

There can also be situations where it has been customary to have a seconder although it is not required by the organization’s rules and regulations. If this is the case then the common action is to continue with the customary practice. Although, technically speaking, it is the discretion of the chair if the common practice is continued or not.

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Robert’s Rule

Robert’s Rules is a set of instructions that is intended to be a guide for meetings and making decisions as a group. If your organization is following the guidelines in this book, it is important to note that is has stated two exceptions for requiring a seconder for a motion:

  1. Small boards. When a board has less than 12 members, motions do not require a seconder.
  2. When a committee report is given and a motion is moved to implement the report’s recommendations.

Which practice to choose?

Another question raised is to decide whether a seconder rules must be implemented in your organization or not. The smartest move here is to apply the seconder rule. Having a seconder to a motion is a good form of validation in terms of support. It shows that members actually believe in the motion, if there is no seconder, and then it will always be a guessing game as to who actually agrees to a motion that is proposed.

How to Start an Incorporated Association in Queensland

What is an Incorporated Association?

An incorporated association is basically a group of people that is regarded as a person. It is because it has the same responsibilities and benefits like a person does. It is a legal entity that does not change even if its members do.

It can do the following as governed by the law:

  • Own a Land
  • Appear in Court
  • Enter into Contracts

Responsibilities of an Incorporated Association

An incorporated association has duties and responsibilities as well, these include the following:

  • Comply with the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 and the Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999
  • Review its financial affairs every year
  • Lodge copies of its rules, annual returns and financial statements

Starting and Incorporated Association

There are qualifications that must be met before starting to incorporate, these are:

  • Having at least seven (7) members
  • Be a not-for-profit organization
  • Have a physical address in Queensland

After meeting the aforementioned requirements, the next steps should be completed:

Resolution

  1. Propose a resolution to become an incorporated association
  2. Pass the said resolution with ¾ majority vote

Name

The name chosen for the incorporated association must also meet requirements subject for the approval of the Government of Queensland:

  • Contain only English characters (the characters allowed are the letters A to Z, numbers 0 to 9, apostrophes, brackets and full stops)
  • Have the word ´Incorporated´ or the abbreviation ´Inc.´ at the end of the name chosen

The name chosen should not be similar or identical to the following:

  • Another association’s name
  • A business name
  • A cooperative name
  • The name of a company

To check if the name you have in mind, you may check the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s registers. You may do this online by going to this link: http://www.asic.gov.au/

There are restrictions to certain names as well. You cannot choose a name that:

  • May be confused with government agencies, financial institutions or educational institutions
  • Infers an affiliation with the Royal family, ex-servicepersons’ organizations or major sporting events (if that affiliation does not exist).

To review the complete list of restrictions, you may check the Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999.

Set of Rules

Incorporated associations must create a set of guiding rules for its operations. It is also referred to as the “association’s constitution”. Once your association is incorporated, these rules immediately take full effect.

The rules must outline the following:

  • How the association operates
  • What rights are available to members
  • How the management committee works
  • How meetings will run.
  • Get more details about adopting rules
  • You may use the model rules or you can write your own rules.

Set a Management Committee

The rules you have created must outline the process of election of your association’s management committee. It should include the following:

  • How to choose committee members
  • How long the committee members’ term of office is
  • Why a committee position may become vacant
  • How to fill casual vacancies on the committee.
  • The rules should set out how to choose the committee members. The management committee will usually include a president, treasurer and secretary.

Application to the Queensland Government

If the aforementioned requirements or steps have been completed, you can already formally apply to the Queensland Government by:

Fees

Fees to be paid will amount to $148.00 that needs to be settled at the time of lodgments. This is as of this writing, for updated fees you may check out the official website of Queensland Government.

Processing Time

The regular lead time for this type of application is three (3) to four (4) weeks. Unless there is a need to contact the applications for additional requirements or information.

Summary

There are a fair number of steps required to setup an association as shown. Be aware that the ongoing responsibilities and liabilities must also be adhered to.

What makes good meeting minutes?

Taking good meeting minutes contributes greatly in making a meeting effective. It is an important source of information about what transpired during the meeting, especially for those who were not able to attend. Aside from the fact that for many associations, they are legally required to keep minutes of the management committee or board, there are three basic reasons why keeping meeting minutes is important:

  • Memories are unreliable and therefore, written records that includes action items and decisions made are useful references.
  • They drive action. Meeting minutes can be used as reminders for tasks and action items that needs to be accomplished.
  • They serve as metrics. Meeting minutes records goals, strategies and deadlines for such, which makes it a good tool when measuring progress.

document

What are good meeting minutes?

The following are characteristics of good meeting minutes:

1. Records attendance

Good meeting minutes indicates those who were invited before the meeting and those who actually attended.

2. Decisions, actions and owners

It is important to take note of the decisions and action items that were agreed upon during the meeting including their assignees. It is helpful to use a table for this part of the report.

3. Report and relevant files

If there were reports and other files presented during the meeting ensure that copies of these are included in the minutes.

4. Use a structured format

The structure that you use in writing the minutes of the meeting is as important as the information written in it. It is better to start your report with logistical facts that includes the meeting time, date, venue and attendees. Then use the agenda as the outline of your report. State the action items, files and assignees under each agenda item.

5. Distribute the minutes

Ideally, minutes should be sent within 24 hours after the meeting.

What is the Difference Between a Motion and a Resolution?

 Resolution

The words “motion” and “resolution” are often used and heard of in the meetings of the board of directors of an organization. These are annual meetings that serve as platforms in proposing actions and mounting decisions. Both terms are often used simultaneously and are sometimes used interchangeably which brings about unnecessary confusions and misunderstandings. The real deal is that these two words are completely different from each other and should not be used in place of the other.

Motions

Simply put, motions are proposals with the aim of making the members of the meeting deliberate on the issue at hand. Motions are proposed by directors that, more often than not, needs a “seconder” before the board can debate on the issue and consider voting for a decision. Moreover, it is not required that a motion be put down into writing, it can be done so verbally. Lastly, motions are well accepted as decisions of the board and does not reflect that of the whole organization.

Resolutions

A resolution, on the other hand, is a motion that has been passed by the members of the meeting of the board of directors. Technically, a motion that is passed by majority of the members present and voting becomes a resolution. It is a formal act that is implemented and is binding of the board members.

Difference

Here are the vital differences between a motion and a resolution:

  • A motion is a proposal from a member of the meeting whereas a resolution reflects the general opinion of the board
  • Generally speaking, not all motions can be resolutions but all resolutions come from motions
  • Generally speaking, a motion can be put forward verbally whereas a resolution is written down and recorded

How Healthy is Your Committee? 20 Questions for A Quick Health Check

How healthy do you think your committee is? Are the members of the committee well versed in terms of their role and responsibilities?

Here’s a quick checklist to assess and review your committee’s health status:

  1. Does the committee still understand its role?
  2. Do the members understand their roles as part of the committee?
  3. Is the mission and vision of the organization clear?
  4. Does the committee operate on the mission and vision of the organization?
  5. Is required information disseminated before meetings?
  6. Are meetings well attended?
  7. Are meetings held as frequent as needed?
  8. Are meetings productive/effective?
  9. Is decision-making done with the best interest of the organization in mind?
  10. Are committee members’ given equal privileges during a meeting?
  11. Are committee meetings properly documented?
  12. Are there conflicts in the committee?
  13. Are conflicts resolved in the committee?
  14. What is the attrition rate of the committee?
  15. Is the committee on top of the issues and problems that the organization is facing?
  16. Are the values of the organization clear?
  17. Does the committee uphold the values of the organization?
  18. Is the financial standing of the organization clear?
  19. Is the organization’s legal structure clear?
  20. Does the committee properly manage the organization’s resources?

Take part in a Survey

 Click here for a quick questionnaire.

 

Signs of a Healthy Committee

How to evaluate a not-for-profit organization before you join the board

Regular organizational health check is considered as one of the most effective ways in improving a group’s performance and organizational management. It improves the following key areas:

  • Leadership
  • Organizational Discipline
  • Execution of Programs/Activities
  • Development of Talent and Knowledge of Staff
  • Relationship Between Members of the Organization
  • Improvement of Strengths
  • Elimination of Weaknesses
  • Alignment of Priorities
  • Updating Legal Requirements

Signs of a Healthy Organization

How to conduct a charity health check?

The big question now is how exactly should it be conducted? Establishing the perfect organizational health check method for your group takes time and effort. You may opt to employ a third party agency to do this for you but if you want to check the health of your organization using your team and resources, you may do so using the following basic format and develop it along the way. Look into the strengths, weakness, threats, opportunities, issues and solutions for each of the following basic points:

Organizational Resources

  • Quality of the Organization’s Management Style
  • Organizational Orientation
  • Strategic Planning
  • Clarity of Priorities/Objectives
  • Mission and Vision
  • Competence of the Board
  • Organizational Culture

Human Resources

  • Quality of Human Resources Management
  • Retention of Staff
  • Training and Development Program Plan
  • Remuneration

Financial Resources

  • Financial Stability
  • Revenue Sources
  • Allocation of Resources

Physical and Information Resources

  • Facilities
  • Quality of Equipment
  • Information System

You may draft a questionnaire to itemize the aforementioned points and break it down into specific areas that needs to be checked. Route them to staff and stakeholders, summarize the results and create a strategic solution or plan after. These points can help you start your organizational health check routine, you may develop it accordingly after a year or regular health check up.

Committee Health Check

Most of us regularly visit the doctor to check on the status of our health. As they say, prevention is better than cure. If an illness is present already, then putting a stop to it as early as possible through health check-ups is better than treating it late.

The same is true with organizations, specifically with non-profit groups. Reviewing the health of the organization regularly can help spot problems or issues before they even arise.

Take a Survey Now

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Organization Health check list

Try to answer the following questions to jumpstart your health check:

  • Are legal requirement updated?
  • Do we work using the best practices in the industry?
  • What are the issues that needs to be addressed in our operations?
  • What are the issues that needs to be addressed in our management system?
  • Are there gaps in the way we do our events or activities?
  • What are our strengths?
  • What are our weaknesses?
  • What should be our priorities?
  • Should we update our training program?

Are you healthy?

Once you establish a health check system for your organization, you will be able to put your finger at the pulse of your group and detect problems right away. This is also a good medium to keep track of the progress of your goals and targets. Your organization is at its prime health if you are able to do the following:

  • Plan ahead
  • Change along with industry demands
  • Retain and develop your staff
  • Mange your resources efficiently and effectively
  • Make your trustees and volunteers feel valued
  • Offer quality service to members and stakeholders
  • Work well with other organizations
  • Meet your targets
  • Improve on your weaknesses
  • Solve issues or work around with problems successfully

Measuring Good Governance