The Masterful Board Meeting

How do you hold a truly masterful board meeting?

Consider this…

Most non-profit organizations would love to have the type of Board that you see in many United Ways where some of the most influential corporate heads, government officials, and civic leaders come together to help bring about meaningful community change. However, all too frequently, instead of focusing on strategic issues, we ask these powerful individuals to sit through two-hour board meetings where they do little more than hear staff reports, ask rudimentary questions, and then leave.

When we hold meetings like these with some of the most influential people in our community we are vastly under-utilizing the skills and potential of our board members.

What if…

You could structure each board meeting where you are spending the minimum amount of time necessary for the board to effectively achieve its oversight responsibility, while maximizing the time spent on addressing issues critical to the community. How much more engaged would board members be if 50-75% of every meeting was spent in healthy and meaningful debate related to strategic topics impacting the community and the direction of the organization? We believe that discussions like these are key to masterful board meetings.

What might the agenda look like for such a meeting?

Sample Agenda for a Masterful Board Meeting

Session Purpose

To confirm performance and the status of key initiatives; to provide input on one or more strategic issues.

This Month’s Strategic Issue

How might our United Way contribute to improving outcomes in…?


A. Welcome and Check-ins (5 minutes)
B. Confirm Performance and Status (25 minutes)

  • Overall Organization
  • Financial Performance
  • Key Project 1
  • Key Project 2
  • Key Project 3

C. Strategic Issue Discussion (75)

  • Update from Prior Strategic Issue
  • Topic and Desired Result From Discussion
  • Key Questions (from Board)
  • Background Information (brief presentation)
  • Potential Alternatives (from Board)
  • Strengths and Weaknesses (from Board)
  • Recommended Direction (from Board)
  • Next Steps

D. Closing (15 minutes)