Consent Agenda- How Using One Will Make Your Meetings More Effective
Many members of non profit organization as well as for profits find themselves experiencing the feeling that they may have already witnessed or experienced the current board meeting they are attending. For those who don’t know that is called déjà vu or in many cases the just the lack of a working consent agenda.
To start you off a consent agenda or consent “calendar” is a time saving tool that groups together routine items and resolutions that would otherwise not need consideration or debate due to a unanimous decision. Consent agendas should be used when there are a number of non-controversial business items on which the board needs to vote on that do not need anymore time or discussion other than “Any objections?... Then they are adopted.” Freeing up valuable time by allowing all items to be approved without separate discussion allows you to gear your efforts towards more important issues.
Consent agendas are used by both non-profit and for-profit organizations whose boards have a lot of routine business to approve and who’s goal is to use board members' time wisely and efficiently. Standard, routine, non-controversial, and self-explanatory are adjectives that describe typical consent agenda items. According to the Support Center for Nonprofit Management the following are some examples of what belongs on a consent agenda:
- Approval of the minutes
- Final approval of proposals or reports that the board has been dealing with for some time and all members are familiar with the implications.
- Routine matters such as appointments to committees
- Staff appointments requiring board confirmation
- Reports provided for information only
- Correspondence requiring no action
A consent agenda only serves its purpose if the topics and documentation for items in the consent agenda are distributed to board members well in advance of the board meeting. All participants can then go through items and decide if they believe anything in particular needs to be discussed further before being voted on.
Here’s how a typical consent agenda is handled:
1. The Chair will present the consent agenda before the members and ask if anyone wishes to remove any of the items. If any member wants a separate vote on any item or simply wants to discuss an item, that item must be removed from the consent agenda. In such a case, the Chair will reiterate which item is to be removed from the consent agenda and whether to take the issue up immediately or to place it under its “regular” category heading for that meeting.
2. The Chair then asks if there are any other items are to be removed. If there are none, the Chair will motion: Items numbered (listing remaining item numbers) are before you. If there is no objection, these items will be adopted. (Pause, to see if there is an objection.) There being no objection, these items are adopted.
3. The consent agenda items will be individually itemized in the minutes so that a complete record of the resolutions, reports, or recommendations is contained.
Here is an example of the motion to adopt:
I would love any feedback on these topics, please feel free to leave a comment.
Support Center for Nonprofit Management
Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership
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