Best Practices for Annual General Meeting (AGM) Preparation and Execution
Many associations are approaching their financial year end, and with their AGMs on the horizon, of our in-house Executive Directors and Association Team members are sharing their tried and true best practices for AGM preparation and execution.
Lorianne Weston, CTDP, Executive Director suggests checking bylaws for timelines at least four months out to count back from the AGM date. This work back schedule will dictate when notices and financials are due to be sent to the membership. Remember, if there were any bylaw changes proposed at the last AGM, ensure that the Board has already seen and approved these changes prior to the AGM notice date. Lorianne also notes that the Board terms list should be reviewed to see if there are any Board vacancies coming up as of the AGM, and if so, set a meeting date for the Nominations committee and advise the Chair of the Board.
Not only do bylaws have to be reviewed well in advance, but financial statements are also critical to review. Ensure that financials are completed within 45 days of year-end and an auditor appointment has been set allowing sufficient time for review of draft financials. Audited statements are generally sent with the AGM notice a specific number of days before the AGM, depending on the bylaws.
It’s very important to circulate the AGM documents to members according to the timelines noted in the bylaws. When sending the AGM notice, make sure that you’re sending it to the most up the date member list as possible. Sarah Cooper, Senior Account Coordinator, Marketing and PR, likes to use e-communications during the lead up to the AGM to educate members on what an AGM is and what voting entails.
Rachel King, Senior Director, Association Management & Marketing, likes to offer clients the option of writing AGM scripts for the Chair and Treasurer to ensure that all points have been covered and in case the Chair and Treasurer aren’t comfortable with public speaking. Tyler Callahan, Executive Director recommends prepping the Chair with any matters that may come up during the AGM to be ready to handle any issues or questions.
Though the AGM documents have already been circulated to members, it’s a good idea to have hard copies at the meeting so members and the Board can review documents as they are referenced. Print one set per Board member and additional copies for members. Also, print the motions and their exact wording. If possible, determine in advance who will move and second the motion to ensure an efficient meeting flow. Print at least one copy of the motions to bring to the AGM. A copy of the bylaws should also be printed and brought to the meeting for reference.
Assign someone to collect proxies and ensure all have been collected at the end of the proxy deadline. Assign someone to take meeting minutes. Given that the AGM format is quite rigid, a draft document can be prepared in advance of the meeting containing the agenda order and proposed motions. It is helpful for the minute taker to have a basic understanding of the association and the issues that would be brought up during the meeting. Lastly, create a slide deck with the agenda and any other matters to be covered at the AGM. This deck can include highlights of the past year or other matters in the Executive Director or President’s Report.
On the day of the AGM, one person should be seated at door to verify attendees’ membership status from current list, as well as distribute AGM document packages and coloured voting cards. Coloured voting cards are helpful as they help scrutineers count in-person votes more quickly. Speaking of scrutineers, develop a backup plan to fill time in the event the election scrutineers are not finished their tabulation by the time the election item arises.'
Terra Belanger, Certification Manager, suggests using a real-time app for voting during AGMs. Attendees can download the app and it counts the votes accurately rather than having to use a scrutineer, which is a great time-saving measure. An important tip is to always do a dry run of any equipment you’ll be using, from microphones to apps, to ensure that there are no snags during your meeting.
If your association is Canadian and had a change of Directors, you’ll need to file form 4006, a “Change Regarding Directors”, within 10 days of the AGM. Finally, finalize and distribute AGM meeting minutes as soon as possible after the meeting, while it’s still fresh, and save the documents to next year’s AGM folder.