What Happened

on in Fundraising

"He Said-She Said."

I've read board minutes where my brain goes into whiplash trying to keep up with the back and forth.

"Decisions Were Made."

I've read other sets of minutes where I'm left scratching my head, trying to figure out how a meeting in which two decisions were made took two hours.

The answer is somewhere in between.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that minutes should not only reflect core decisions, but should also serve to keep board members who couldn't attend in the loop. There's always someone who couldn't make the meeting and the notes should serve to bring them along, both so they don't drop off the face of the earth and also so they don't come to the next meeting trying to reinvent the wheel (i.e., remake the same decision again because they weren't part of the process of thinking it through). Minutes can bring the process to those who weren't in the room, and keep them involved.

But minutes are also public documents and so shouldn't reveal individual viewpoints or every last sordid detail. In other words, due diligence but not bickering. They should be clear and transparent – and should reveal reflection, consideration, and solid, thoughtful decision-making.

Good minutes are teaching documents, creating coherence out of a group of disparate individuals. There's a craft – beyond the tape recorder – to transforming notes into minutes that move an organization forward.



(Originally published 5/15/12)

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