10 Ways to Avoid Really Bad Board Committee Meetings

Nobody likes inefficient meetings. This article from BoardEffect about running Board Committee Meetings is a good chance to remind yourself how to avoid really bad Board Committee Meetings. Want to avoid running terrible meetings? Here are 10 tips to help:
  1. Have a clearly defined, up-to-date, Board approved Committee Mandate or Committee Job description. If your Committee members do not know what they are responsible for, it’s hard to feel accomplished.
  2. Train Board Committee Chairs. It takes leadership skills to guide a constructive, highly productive Board Committee. Committees benefit from airing of different points of view and yet still aim to reach decisions by general consensus. It is the Committee Chair’s job to organize the work of the Committee and also guide the Committee’s discussion. And yet not many of us have been trained in those facilitation skills.
  3. Have a clear agenda. It is much easier to accomplish meaningful work together if an agenda is defined in advance of the meeting. Here is a sample POP agenda (focusing on Purpose and Outcomes).
  4. Start Meetings on Time. It is hard for today’s volunteers to give up their time for committee work. Don’t make people grumpy - begin meetings when you said you would start. Latecomers will catch up when they arrive.
  5. End Meetings on time. If a topic needs more time for thoughtful discussion it is better to set up another meeting than to drag out a meeting beyond the end time. Consistently ending on time helps Committee members stay focused on the agenda.
  6. Get work done between meetings. Committee meetings are most constructive when members take on tasks and work on items between meetings. The Chair also needs to assign tasks and follow-up with members to ensure that tasks are getting worked on. 
  7. Schedule future meetings in advance. The Chair is also responsible for scheduling the meetings in advance and making sure members have meetings set in their busy calendars. Committees that only schedule “as needed” often end up working with frustrating stops and starts, and have trouble accomplishing their work.
  8. Recognize the contributions of others. People love and appreciate being publicly thanked and recognized for their contributions. Taking the time to actively call out work done by members of the Committee helps sustain everyone’s motivation.
  9. Keep notes of your meeting. You need to record and keep notes only on the following:
  • Any decisions or votes.
  • The agenda of the meeting and attendance. 
  • Follow-up and next steps: who will do what and by when.
  • Recognition of Committee members or staff for work done to date. Notes should be stored in an agreed upon location and copied to the Board Chair and Top Executive.
  1. Committee Membership. If you’ve done all of the above, and still struggle with the quality of your Board Committee Meetings, assess the composition of the Committee’s membership.  Might it be time to bring in new members with fresh perspectives? 
Written by Julia Riseman. Julia is a Mentor with JCamp 180. Julia leads Data2Donors, a program to advance Alumni Outreach, improve camp databases, and raise more major gifts, and Fundraising Fundamentals. Julia has also sparked the creation of many JCamp 180 programs and offerings, including this blog.

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at