As company secretary, it’s important to keep the board of directors on track. Each member of the board will have their own priorities, workloads and other matters to attend to. However, creating an annual calendar in advance means everyone can schedule the time, which will increase the likelihood of attendance and always having a quorum. It’s important to remember that most votes can’t take place without a quorum; this means you need to do everything in your power to make it easy for individual members to attend each meeting.
A thoroughly planned schedule ensures that all key dates, issues and matters that need the directors’ attention are addressed. Let’s explore a board of directors' annual calendar template to keep everything organised and on track for the year.
The importance of annual board meeting plans
The ultimate goal of the board of directors is to drive an organisation or non-profit towards its goals. An effective board calendar will keep the board aligned and help them to govern effectively.
Prepping an annual board meeting calendar in advance ensures that:
- Each member of the board of directors can plan their own affairs with their responsibilities to the organisation in mind.
- The board has an up-to-date overview of the focus for each meeting.
- Nothing critical is missed (such as evaluations, risk management or financials).
- Discussions aren’t the same at each and every meeting.
- Individual members are all aware of action items and key reporting dates.
- Everyone is aligned on compliance requirements and dates.
- Directors don’t take meetings off track, with a logical progression of thoughts and additional discussions raised at a suitable time throughout the year.
How to structure your annual board meeting plan
Here is a simple five-step process for structuring your annual board meeting calendar.
- Start with a completely blank monthly or annual template.
- Add bank holidays, religious events and other annual dates to avoid calendar clashes.
- Mark holidays and important dates such as compliance, auditing, financial and reporting deadlines.
- Add key events, such as the annual general meeting (AGM), or block out suggested dates and locations if they are not yet set in stone.
- Schedule meetings around key events, e.g. schedule the AGM after the date the annual financial report is released.
What should you include in your annual board meeting calendar?
The following items would normally be included in the board calendar, and some might appear in more than one calendar month.
You can use the checklist below as a starting point. Tick each off as you go, but remember to leave some flexibility to attend to urgent matters and special meetings.
|Regular board meetings
|Annual budget approvals and reports (as well as quarterly and regular check-ins)
|Recruitment, new members and board orientation
|Corporate governance review
|Board development: member self-evaluations and board self-assessment
|Evaluations of leadership: CEO, CFO and remuneration/bonuses
|Annual audit reports and committee reviews
|AGM presentation prep and AGM
|Bylaws, laws and regulation updates, including codes of conduct
|Offsite strategy and planning days
|Informal meet-ups and stakeholder events: dinners, galas or BBQs
|Risk management, compliance and board policies reviews
Annual board meeting plan templates
Here are some templates that might help you create the perfect annual board meeting plan.
The first useful template comes from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. It includes:
- Key governance issues that need to be addressed throughout the year.
- Committees (and subcommittees) that need to be considered.
- Regular board meetings.
This is a good example of how the calendar doesn’t need to be twelve months of detail and specific dates planned out in advance. By looking at the year month by month, you can ensure that everything has a time and a place for review and discussion. Listing all tasks and choosing a month when they’ll be completed is a much more effective way of working than trying to discuss everything in the first two months of the year.
The second template to provide inspiration is from Effective Governance. It follows a similar style to the first template, with all tasks mapped out and the ability to schedule them in month by month. Again, this approach leaves more flexibility and can be easier to get initial sign-off on, ahead of assigning specific dates to each task.
Finally, the third template is from Governing Good. Again, using a month-by-month view with a slightly different style is clear and accessible for all.
You can also use a very simple Word document (or use Google Docs) with twelve squares in and the months, such as the one below!
Tips to create the best board meeting calendar
Here are a handful of tips to make your annual board meeting calendar as effective as possible.
- Prep the meeting calendar ahead of the year (starting in January or by the financial year end).
- Create a logical flow that ‘sandwiches’ each side of the AGM – what needs to be sorted prior to the AGM, and what can wait until after?
- Leave space to be flexible – don’t overfill every month with several meetings!
- Prioritise urgent issues earlier on in the year – if some topics aren’t time-sensitive, they can wait until further on in the calendar year.
- Align dates as much as possible – don’t have everyone travel on a Friday for a meeting, with another scheduled for the next Monday. Streamline this to make it as easy as possible for all.
- Don’t set it in stone. While an initial annual calendar is a good starting point, things may evolve to align with organisational activity and needs throughout the year.
- Where possible, outline whether meetings will be in-person or virtual. This will help to keep everyone aware of time, travel and hotel requirements upfront.
Who is responsible for creating the annual board meeting plan?
An annual board meeting plan, or board calendar, is often created by the company secretary. However, the chairperson may decide to take it on or support the secretary with suggestions. The resulting document should be distributed (with flexibility for comments, feedback and updates) before being accepted by the board as a whole.
Who should approve the annual board meeting plan?
Initially, it’s important that the chair gives their approval to the plan. After that, the board of directors will have their say and may vote to adopt (or not adopt!) the annual calendar.
Who sets the agenda for a board meeting?
The company secretary usually writes the board meeting agenda. However, similarly to the annual board meeting plan, it should be approved by the chair and then voted on for adoption by the remaining board members. To make this process simpler, the draft agenda should be circulated among the board members ahead of the meeting to allow them to make comments or suggest changes. This means that the vote at the beginning of the meeting to adopt the agenda is straightforward, and everyone is saving time.
How often are board meetings held?
The regularity of board meetings varies. Smaller businesses may stick to quarterly catch-ups, whereas large organisations and non-profit boards may have regular meetings each month. There is no hard and fast rule to this unless outlined in the organisation’s bylaws.
Planning in advance is crucial to getting the board of directors organised. Remember that transparency and collaboration are key: create a draft, ask the chairperson of the organisation to take a glance at it (and make relevant adjustments) and then circulate it among all board members for their amends, feedback and suggestions.
By using the tips and templates outlined above to create a board of directors’ annual calendar template, you’re likely to get early adoption from the board. The board is then well-prepared for the year ahead. This will lead to better board meeting attendance, higher board member engagement and better results for the organisation!
Are you ready to make organisation and time-saving a priority for this coming year? iBabs can help. Board meeting management software can make minute taking, document sharing and notes easier to collaborate on and manage within your organisation. Get started with a free product demo today to see how you can save time using iBabs.
References and further reading
- [Guide] Write Board Meeting Agendas Like A Pro + Template
- Ten Steps to Improving Your Corporate Governance
- How To Organise A Virtual Board Meeting (Plus Agenda Template)
- Robert’s Rules of Order: Simplified Beginner’s Guide
- Robert’s Rules of Order for Voting – All You Need To Know
- A Complete Board Roles And Responsibilities Checklist For New Directors