5 Steps to Successfully Running Volunteer Meetings

July 30, 2013

There are a number of steps which can contribute to the success of running volunteer meetings for your organization.  Here are five easy ones to remember and implement.

1. Make an agenda. A meeting without an agenda is like a ship without a captain. The agenda sets the course of the meeting and helps leaders and attendees navigate their way through the process with clarity. The agenda should include these basics: a) who do you want at the meeting, b) what do you want to accomplish at the meeting (it is recommended you keep this to between 3 – 5 items), c) set the timing for the meeting, the date, time, location, and length.

2. Decide on invitees. Send out an invitation using an internet service like Evite, or Google Docs.  List several different potential dates and times and a way for invitees to respond with their preferences. If people are going to be joining the meeting from far away, set up a way to facilitate their ‘attendance’ by using Skype or GoToMeeting or some other electronic forum.

3. Paperwork and Document Preparation. Distribute copies of the agenda, and any supporting documents you need to have present that explain the agenda items, well in advance. If the attendees are local within your company, you can distribute hard copies or emails with attachments. For distant invitees, services like Google Docs work well for distributing to large groups of people, and afford the additional benefit of being able to make and evaluate comments and revisions to documents.

4. Snacks. If your meeting is going to take place in person, have an assortment of healthy snacks and beverages on hand for the attendees. Take care to make sure that the snacks are kept in a healthy manner (chilled when necessary, etc).

5. Assign someone the task of taking notes during the meeting. A good written record will be an invaluable tool for follow-up after the meeting and provide a historical record of what occurred, especially in regard to the action items and the discussion points that led up to making decisions at the meeting.

Working with volunteers, it is important that the organization makes the volunteers feel their donation of time is valued.  You can make sure your volunteers feel this way by valuing their input at the meetings, or by distributing tee-shirts that make them feel like they are part of the organization.

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