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Board meetings

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Board meetings are formal meetings of the charity’s trustee board.  The board must meet as often as is necessary to carry out their role of governing the charity.

Trustees must normally be able to see and hear each other for a meeting to be valid – this includes face to face meetings and meetings held by video conferencing (unless prohibited in the governing document). It is recommended that boards meeting exclusively by video conferencing should have at least one physical meeting each year. A voice-only meeting is only possible if the charity's governing document allows it.

The rules governing the frequency and conduct of board meetings vary from charity to charity and are usually set out in the charity’s governing document and/or or associated policies.

A charity’s rules might, for example, set out:

  • The required frequency of board meetings
  • The quorum – the minimum number of trustees required to be present for a meeting to be valid
  • Other specific procedures - for example, the power to hold meetings by telephone or the power for individual trustees to call meetings.

The chair of trustees is responsible for chairing meetings of the trustee board. Any further duties or powers of the chair might be set out in the governing document or agreed by trustees or members. See our How to chair a trustee meeting

The minutes are a formal record of the board meeting and must be recorded accurately and agreed by trustees and securely preserved

Trustees are collectively responsible for the decisions taken by the trustee board as a whole. This applies even if a trustee is unable to attend a board meeting. It is important, then, than trustees always prepare for meetings and read background papers, even if they cannot attend the meeting.

Making board meetings effective

Board meetings can loose their effectiveness if they focus too much on trivial or day to day issues, or if trustees are not prepared for meetings. Board should focus on:

  •  The frequency of meetings and attendance – are meetings held as required by the governing document and do all trustees attend unless genuinely unable to do so?
  • The agenda – is it clear which items are for decision and which are for information? Do the main agenda items cover issues relevant to the board’s governance role?
  • The preparation and distribution of advance papers – do these help the board prepare for the meeting? Are they circulated in good time so that trustees have a chance to read before the meeting?
  • The format of discussions at the meeting – is the meeting organised in such a way to help the board have thorough discussions about governance issues – for example, future plans to raise funds or long term plans rather than on routine matters?

 Further Information

Page last edited Apr 04, 2019

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