How to Write a Non-profit Board Meeting Agenda + Template

Board meetings at non-profits are essential to help the company fulfil its vision, mission and purpose. It is your chance to gather together the skills, expertise and experience of your board members to make decisions that will drive the organisation forward in an efficient and sustainable manner. 

However, our State of Meeting Management 2024 survey found that meetings across this sector were not as efficient as they could be. 92% of those representing non-profits that responded to the study rated their meeting satisfaction as five or below out of ten. There are many reasons why attendees might not be getting the most out of meetings, including there being a lack of structure to proceedings. 

If this is the case in your organisation, having a well-thought-out agenda in place can help engage board members and create more productive meetings. This article describes the elements you need to plan out your meetings and features a non-profit board meeting agenda template you can use next time your members get together. 

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Meeting agenda, annual plan, board resolution and more templates to use in your meetings

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What should a non-profit board meeting agenda contain?

Here are the essential elements for a non-profit board meeting agenda: 

Call to orderThe meeting chair will officially begin the meeting with the call to order at a time set in the agenda. 
Approval of the previous meetings’ minutesMembers must approve the account of the previous meeting, recorded in the minutes. To save time in this meeting, many organisations distribute and approve the meeting minutes in advance of the next meeting. 
Executive director’s reportThe non-profit executive director or CEO should deliver an update on relevant issues for the organisation. Each non-profit board should work with the executive director to ascertain what the most valuable content would be for their report, but generally, it should contain details on significant issues affecting the organisation, progress on strategic goals, organisational matters, compliance updates and similar topics.
Financial reportsThe stakeholder with responsibility for financial matters, usually the treasurer, should inform the board about budget, accounts, audits and other such information.
Committee reportsIf applicable, each committee of the board reports back on the work it has carried out since the previous meeting. 
Old businessThe board chair works through the topics for discussion that were left unfinished at the previous meeting, with the board discussing one at a time and voting accordingly. The agenda should list the topics and details to help members prepare, including presentations, documents and other information. 
New businessAs with the old business, the board takes new topics one by one. Add relevant information to each new business agenda item to help board members understand the subjects for discussion and come to the meeting fully prepared. 
AnnouncementsAny announcements that the board needs to hear about the organisation, upcoming meetings, social events and anything else relevant. 
AdjournmentThe chair brings the meeting to an official end

How to write an effective non-profit board meeting agenda

Once you gain an idea of the basic structure of a non-profit board meeting, you can start to create more effective agendas. Here are the considerations you need to make to ensure the agenda is helpful for your board members and gives them the best possible opportunity to prepare, making the meeting as productive as possible. 

Determine the meeting’s purpose and objectives

Every time you gather the board together, there has to be a reason. Otherwise, it can become easy for directors to disengage. After all, they have busy schedules and that means you have to make the most of their time whilst you have it. 

When planning your agenda, always think about the type of board meeting you are arranging. It could be: 

  • A regular quarterly meeting with a selection of business to discuss
  • An annual planning session which should result in a solid plan
  • A special meeting to discuss and deal with a specific topic

Keep the desired outcome in mind when putting together the agenda items and use this to plan what needs to be decided and what information board members need to help them make those decisions in full knowledge of the topic. 

Identify essential agenda items

Start by looking through the board meeting minutes of the previous meeting to identify topics you either did not get round to tackling or that were left unresolved for any reason. Consider whether they are still relevant and whether they need to be added to the old business section of the agenda. 

Consult with the chair and the executive director to finalise the priorities for the meeting and to craft the order of the new business that the board will discuss. Add the most pressing issues first and the least relevant topics towards the end. This means the meeting will have the greatest possible effect, even if you run out of time for all issues. 

Allocate time for each item

Consider how long your meeting will last and divide the time accordingly. When allocating time for items, think about the complexity of the topic and the number of people who will need to contribute to the discussion. This will help you gauge the amount of time that you should set aside for these subjects. 

Be realistic concerning the amount you can get done in one meeting. If it goes on for too long, it can be difficult to engage board members for the full duration. If directors lose focus, it can affect the quality of your decision-making. This is where your prioritisation will help. It is better to tackle the most pressing issues and then call a separate meeting for other topics than try to cram everything into one long session. 

Be strategic and place important and time-sensitive topics at the start, when participants are more likely to be alert and engaged. Build in buffer time too, in case discussions run over time or there are unexpected questions to answer. 

Provide supporting materials in advance

Create a board pack for each meeting, containing a collection of documents that members need to be fully prepared for the meeting. By sending this out in advance, you can keep the meeting tight and efficient as directors enter the room with all the details they need and have had time to formulate their thoughts on them. 

Attach financial reports, committee updates and other information to the relevant agenda items so that they are easy to reference when board members are preparing. 

Using a board portal allows you to add links from the digital agenda to your document management system, containing all the relevant documentation for the meeting. 

Seek feedback to keep the agenda focused

As well as limiting the number of items to those that you will realistically be able to devote time to, ensure that the agenda itself is concise. Do not write overly detailed descriptions, but instead, keep them short and to the point, allowing the board member to form their own opinions. 

Guide them towards the topic and the supporting documentation without trying to lead them to a decision. 

Allow for board members to collaborate and make comments, and ask questions if there is anything they need clarifying. They can do this by commenting on the document in a board portal, allowing you to adjust the agenda based on the feedback and update it for all participants. 

Set a time limit for adjustments and communicate this to board members. After that time, the agenda as it stands is the final document. 

Time Management Tips

  • Allocate time wisely

Ensure that each topic on your board meeting agenda has a specific time allocation. Those issues that are most pressing for your organisation’s mission should take the most time within the meeting so consider the potential outcome of each item you schedule. 

  • Encourage time-conscious participation

Promote a culture of efficiency by encouraging board members to be mindful of their speaking time, focusing on making substantive contributions without digressing. The better-prepared directors are, the easier it will be to make pertinent points without spending time on details that do not benefit the organisation’s purpose. 

  • Schedule regular breaks

For longer meetings, schedule short breaks to prevent fatigue and keep members engaged and attentive throughout the meeting. This also allows them to bond as a group in a more relaxed atmosphere than the midst of a meeting. 

Download non-profit board meeting agenda template

iBabs has created a board meeting template kit to help you create clear and concise documents that improve your non-profit board meetings. This comprehensive set includes a sample board meeting agenda template for non-profits that you can use to structure your agenda in an easy-to-read format and allow you to plan your meetings with an effective and productive running order. 

Get the Board Meeting Template Kit

Meeting agenda, annual plan, board resolution and more templates to use in your meetings

iBabs Meeting template package iBabs Meeting template package


What is the optimal length for a non-profit board meeting?

Ideally, a board meeting will last between one and two hours. This duration allows sufficient time to address all items without causing fatigue that can lead to less effective decision-making from attendees. 

How can we ensure that all board members are prepared for the meeting?

Distribute the agenda and relevant documents well in advance. Encourage members to review materials and make comments and suggestions, as well as asking questions about anything that requires additional explanation. This approach leads to more successful board meetings. 

What should be done if an agenda item is not covered due to time constraints?

Reschedule these items for the next meeting or address them in a specially convened session if they are essential to the organisation’s purpose. Ideally, anything that is a priority for the work of the non-profit will be towards the beginning of the agenda to ensure it is covered as a matter of urgency. 

How often should non-profit board meetings be held?

Typically non-profits will run quarterly board meetings. However, this can vary based on the organisation's needs and statutory requirements. It may be that there is a need for a special meeting to discuss a certain issue between board meetings. Each organisation will have its own schedule and requirements. 

What does a good board agenda look like?

A good board agenda for a non-profit should be concise and list all the elements that are necessary for a successful meeting. Start with the routine items such as the call to order and approval of the minutes from the previous meeting, as well as reports. Add the old and new business, announcements and the time of adjournment. 


Using iBabs’ non-profit board meeting agenda template will help you create an effective framework for your meetings and allow you to gain the most benefit from your board members. Efficiency and productivity are essential when you are working towards a mission that will make a difference to your community and the agenda plays an important role in making for a successful meeting. 

With iBabs, you can create an agenda in minutes using our template and add links to necessary documents. Users can comment in the cloud and collaborate on your documents. Using this feedback, you can update the document and ensure all members have access to the current version. Request a demo of iBabs now to see how it can improve your non-profit board meetings. 

References and further reading

iBabs Meeting Assessment
iBabs is a leader in paperless meetings and enables you to reduce these piles of documents to the thickness of your tablet. Thousands of organizations have been using this system for more than 15 years.

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