Annual General Meetings

How to prepare your not-for-profit organisation for an Annual General Meeting (AGM).

What is an AGM and why is it important?

At an AGM, the board will present their annual report and other key information for your members, funders, or supporters. The AGM gives stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions, understand the strategy and direction of your organisation, and raise any concerns.

The purpose of an AGM

Annual General Meetings (AGM) are yearly meetings that ensure your organisation remains on track.

Organisations must hold an AGM once every calendar year. The AGM must be held no later than six months after the company’s balance date (the last day of the accounting year – refer to your constitution).

An AGM may also include:

  • welcome and apologies
  • minutes of previous the AGM
  • President’s report
  • CEO’s report (if applicable)
  • presentation of financial reports (including audit of annual report)
  • constitution amendments (if any)
  • elections
  • Life Memberships (if any)
  • appointment of the auditor for the next financial year.

AGM processes to follow

Notify attendees in writing 21 days before you hold an AGM

You need to give your organisation, your membership, stakeholders, funders, and board members notice in writing at least 21 days before you hold an AGM. This is best practice.

The advance notice should include:

  • an agenda to prepare the board and the stakeholders with what to expect at the AGM
  • any issue that may need to be voted on
  • the annual report and any other reports requiring attention.

Know your constitution

Your constitution is your most important guiding document. Any changes (minor or major) are usually made at an AGM or, if particularly urgent, at a Special General Meeting.

It’s good practice to notify your organisation of any proposed constitution changes in your AGM notice to your members.

Who attends AGMs and who has the right to vote?

Attendees at AGMs include appointed board members, life members, and any guests who may be invited.

You can have proxy votes for members who might not be able to attend in person – check your constitution.

What makes a good AGM?

AGM meetings run smoothly with a good agenda. If there are major changes to your constitution and you anticipate debate or challenges to the proposed changes, give yourself plenty of time within your agenda for good discussion.

Consider inviting an independent consultant to facilitate discussions to help share why the changes are proposed.

Making sure your members, funders, and stakeholders are well informed in advance helps to alleviate tensions or challenges that may arise.

Sharing your success

  • Consider having a speaker come along and talk on a topic of interest relevant to your organisation.
  • Share a successful fundraising initiative or environmental project success with photos or videos.
  • Ask your local branch to provide an update on their year to date.
  • You could highlight key strategies underway or provide an overview of the plans for the upcoming year.
  • You could share how to operate Facebook or hold social media classes to get everyone up to date with how you communicate your organisation’s projects.

Remember to look after your members, funders, and stakeholders.

With membership organisations, often your members have travelled to attend. Take the time to welcome them and thank them for volunteering in their regions or local branches.

Have some kai after your AGM and get to know one another. Remember why you are there.

Friendly advice for running a successful AGM

AGMs can be an opportunity to celebrate the hard work your management team and board have achieved, but they can also be difficult.

Make sure your Chair is comfortable leading an AGM and check in with your members if there are any difficult issues that haven’t been resolved. The more you can do before your AGM to manage any challenges or discourse, the better prepared you will be to hold your AGM.

Dealing with bad behaviour does happen. Remember to lead from the top with integrity and open communication. Establish ground rules for being respectful at your AGM.

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