Mastering Board Meetings: A Guide to Navigating with Robert’s Rules of Order

For nonprofit organizations, effective board meetings are key to informed decision making and sound governance.

Many nonprofits utilize Robert’s Rules of Order as a framework for conducting meetings. In this article, we will explore how to run a board meeting using the framework of Robert’s Rules of Order, to ensure fairness, order, and efficiency in meetings.

Implementing the Framework of Robert’s Rules of Order

It is important for you to review your nonprofit’s bylaws when conducting your board meetings. Your nonprofit may benefit from adopting a revised version of Roberts Rules of Order. Our recommendation is that you review your bylaws and proceed with the best practices recommended below.

  1. Appoint a Chair: Every meeting should have a designated chair who is responsible for maintaining order, following the rules, and facilitating the meeting’s flow.
  2. Establish an Agenda: A well-structured agenda is crucial to ensuring that meetings stay on track. It outlines the order of business and helps participants prepare for discussions.
  3. Call to Order: The meeting begins with the chair calling it to order. During this time, participants should be punctual, and the chair ensures that a quorum is present for decision-making.
  4. Motions and Voting: Members can introduce motions, which are proposals for action. These motions must be seconded and then discussed and voted on. Robert’s Rules outline specific procedures for making, seconding, amending, and voting on motions.
  5. Debate and Discussion: Robert’s Rules encourage orderly and respectful debate. Members should avoid personal attacks or interruptions.
  6. Minutes and Records: Minutes of the meeting should be taken and maintained as a record of what transpired. It is important to include motions, actions taken, and any decisions made during the meeting.
  7. Adjournment: The meeting concludes with a motion to adjourn, which must be properly seconded and voted on.

Understanding Robert’s Rules of Order

Originally created by General Henry M. Robert in 1876, Roberts Rules of Order is a comprehensive set of parliamentary rules and procedures that help organizations conduct meetings effectively. These rules ensure that meetings are conducted fairly, that all voices are heard, and that decisions are made by following a structured process.

Benefits of Using Robert’s Rules of Order in Nonprofit Board Meetings

  1. Structured Decision-Making: Robert’s Rules provide a clear structure for conducting meetings, ensuring that all relevant topics are addressed in an orderly fashion.
  2. Fairness and Inclusivity: The rules promote fairness and inclusivity by giving every member an opportunity to voice their opinions, debate issues, and participate in the decision-making process.
  3. Efficiency: With a well-defined process, meetings tend to be more efficient and focused on the agenda, reducing the risk of time-wasting tangents.
  4. Transparency: Using Robert’s Rules helps maintain transparency by ensuring that all members are aware of the decision making process and how votes are cast.
  5. Conflict Resolution: The rules offer mechanisms for resolving conflicts and disputes, reducing the likelihood of heated arguments or unproductive disagreements.

Adhering to Robert’s Rules of Order is a time-tested approach to conducting your board meetings with precision and effectiveness. By following this structured framework, you can ensure that your nonprofit can ensure that the board meetings are fair, transparent, and focused on achieving the nonprofit’s mission. Whether you are an experienced parliamentarian or new to the process, Robert’s Rules of Order is a valuable tool for running efficient and productive board meetings.

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