Heather Comstock Connects

Helping nonprofits and other volunteer organizations develop strong relationships and a clear voice in the community.

Spring To Do Items

Springtime is traditionally very busy for most nonprofits. Review this checklist for the most common activities! (photo (c) 2013 Heather Comstock)

Springtime is traditionally very busy for most nonprofits. Review this checklist for the most common activities! (photo (c) 2013 Heather Comstock)

Spring has finally arrived here in the Mid-Atlantic bringing flowers and pollen! This time of year always kicks off a flurry of activities for many nonprofits so here’s a quick checklist of things to keep in mind before you skive off to play hooky!

Annual Meeting – every incorporated nonprofit is required to have at least one board meeting annually. This is often referred to as the Annual Meeting. For groups that meet regularly, this may seem a bit superfluous, but you still need to stay compliant. Usually it means adding the words “Annual Meeting” to your agenda and minutes for the meeting. Take a few minutes to review your organizing documents (articles of incorporation and by-laws) for your group’s requirements and other activities that may hinge on your Annual Meeting such as Board Elections.

Annual Business Meeting – if you are a membership-based organization, your by-laws often require you to have some sort of annual business meeting that is open to all members to attend. Usually the Treasurer is required to make a financial report and often votes by your members are conducted at these meetings. Many groups hold these in conjunction with an annual conference or convention. Check your organizing documents for requirements on announcing and publishing meeting dates and other items for voter consideration like by-law changes.

Check your budget! If your organization uses a fiscal year, start preparing the budget for next year. The State of Maryland uses a fiscal year of July 1 through June 30th and many Maryland-based nonprofits do the same. Your board will need to review and approve the coming year’s budget before the start of the fiscal year.

Elections – many organizations conduct elections of new board members and representatives during the spring with the results or swearing in of new officers conducted with the Annual Meeting. Take a few minutes to plan the logistics of these ceremonies. Is there a written Oath of Office? Who conducts the ceremony? Plan for pictures and publishing the information either internally or with a press release to the local media.

Orientation – plan your orientation activities for your new board members, new volunteers, or even new members. What information will they need to understand the organization? How can you make them feel welcome and more comfortable in their role? Do you assign mentors? Take some time to ask your current board members or volunteers what they wished they had known when they first got started. Start compiling your orientation materials now. Maryland Nonprofits has a great checklist available for members.

Recognition – take some time to recognize outgoing or exceptional volunteers. As you cycle out board members, take some time to publicly recognize the contributions of those who are leaving. If you have a volunteer who has done outstanding work, now is a good opportunity to showcase their contributions to a larger audience. Get those trophies, plaques, and certificates done now and have someone else proof read them! Then you have extra time if there’s anything misspelled or incorrect.

If you are finding yourself already in the midst of some of these items, take a few minutes to make some notes about the process for the next year:

  • Does your organization keep an annual calendar? Was it accurate?
  • Did you start too early or too late?
  • What worked well?
  • What didn’t work at all?
  • Were you able to locate all the required information (such as Oath of Office) easily?
  • Does the process outlined in by-laws or policy manuals align with the reality of accomplishing these tasks?
  • Is there something or someone else who was needed during the process?

What else does your organization do during the spring? Do you have any other tips to help keep this time of year going smoothly?

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