Preparing for an Annual General Meeting (AGM) takes quite a bit of planning. Unfortunately, I see many clubs spending more time planning the logistics than they do the content and the structure of the meeting.
If you want to have an efficient meeting and well-informed members, you must take the time to properly plan what information you will be providing and ensure it’s complete and accurate.
What Happens at an AGM?
Before we dive in deeper, let’s review what happens at an AGM. Take note that this may vary slightly for each club as it depends on the charitable laws of your state and your club's by-laws. However, below is what generally takes place:
Approval of the previous year's minutes
Present audited financial statements
Present the board’s activities across the previous year
Run elections for board members
Appoint a new financial auditor
Raise items that require a vote (i.e. large financial and/or operational undertakings or changes to your by-laws)
Highlight the progress and achievements of your sports clubs.
While it’s generally the Club Secretary and President that organizes the AGM, it’s important that all board members and any chairs of sub-committees are kept in the loop so they understand the time frames of when reports need to be submitted in time for dissemination to the members.
Know your Clubs By-law
First and foremost, you must run your meeting according to your by-laws. If you aren’t familiar with your by-laws, start there to ensure you run the AGM by the book. Pay particular attention to who are voting members so they can be informed well in advance to attend, as well as how voting procedures are to take place. You will also want to understand if there are time frames around the dissemination of information so your members are prepared before arriving at the AGM.
Do not skip this step in your preparation. I’ve witnessed clubs put forward a major undertaking for a vote only to have a member in the audience point out that the voting notifications and procedures were not done according to the by-law. This meant the vote could not move forward and the vote was postponed until the following year or at a special general meeting, depending on what their by-laws allowed. (A special general meeting is also called an emergency or extraordinary general meeting.) Again, know and operate according to your by-laws.
Logistics and Notification
It’s best to plan the location and date of the AGM months in advance. This ensures you have an appropriate location that can hold all of your members, is set up properly for presentations and provides an area for gathering and refreshments.
Setting the date and time well in advance also allows the members the opportunity to clear their calendars so they can attend. Your AGM may require a specific notice period, so if it’s a long notification period like 21 days, you will need to work backward to plan accordingly to meet those requirements. In addition, if your AGM requires a specific number of attendees for a quorum, then it’s in your best interest to notify your members early or the AGM may not be able to take place. Be sure to put the location, date, and time on the website and any upcoming notifications such as newsletters.
Additional things to consider with regards to logistics is ensuring there is a location for members to sign in upon arrival so there is a record of their attendance. At this same location, you can give attendees a packet that contains all of the relevant information that is being shared.
With regards to the information packet, all of this information should also be online at least a week in advance so members have plenty of time to read and reflect. Your packet may require advanced notification and some clubs choose to mail out hard copies. Either way, providing information in advance helps the AGM run smoothly as there are fewer questions and concerns.
Some clubs choose not to provide information early due to fear that a vote won’t go well. If this is your fear, it’s best to prepare for the criticism and bring those people along for the journey than have to deal with the dissension and backlash afterward. Transparency is key for the good governance of the club.
Lastly, it should go without saying that the board must be available on this date. Typically the president will chair the meeting, the Secretary will take minutes and the Treasurer will need to present the financial information.
Having a well-organized information packet provides the members with the opportunity to be prepared and to make sound voting decisions. I’ve seen AGM’s get completely derailed because the members had so many questions and concerns. The last thing you want is for your AGM to go overtime or for you to have to call it without getting the votes you needed.
Your packet should include the following at a minimum:
Notice of the AGM
A copy of the previous year's minutes
Annual Report (see below)
Information about each person running for a board seat
Information regarding any items that require a vote (be sure to provide complete details addressing any questions you feel will come up)
A summary of voting procedures
A copy of why they should attend the AGM
A copy of the by-laws
The Annual Report
Your club’s annual report includes essential info that encourages members, volunteers, and sponsors to support your organization. These might be facts or stats or even changes like new policies you've introduced during the year.
The report commonly includes:
Your vision or goals that were set for the year
Your achievements or performance measures the goals
An audited financial statement
A list of members of the board of directors and contact information
It’s important to show the members the works that the board and the volunteers achieved over the year. These may come about through projects or subcommittees. Some of these undertakings will be items that were voted on and approved the previous year, so they will want to know the outcome.
The Audited Financial Statement
The audited Financial statement reviews the club’s financial statements. It lists income, donations, and a cash flow statement that's been audited and reviewed.
The key components are usually:
Balance Sheet: This lists the assets and liabilities of the club, including land and buildings, critical equipment, etc.
Income Statement: This lists the profit and loss for the fiscal year.
Cash Flow Statement: This statement reviews how income and balance changes affect the club's available cash.
When it comes time to present this information to the members, it’s best that the Treasurer discusses or provides additional detail in their presentation that they feel the members might question. For example, if a project went over budget. Whether it affected the overall financial health of the club or not, someone in the audience will spot it and ask about it.
Again, it’s better to be prepared and transparent for good governance.
Plan Out Your Agenda
Your members will appreciate a drafted agenda when you give notice of the event.
In preparing a detailed agenda for your AGM, consider the duration of the meeting, discussion time required, and any motions that need making.
An agenda might, for example, read like this:
Call to order
Approve the minutes of the previous AGM
Report onboard activities
Present financial statements (Treasurer’s report)
Elect new directors
Present any motions/resolutions that need approval from the membership
Introduce a guest speaker if you have one
Adjourn the meeting
You might also want to plan for downtime before or after the main meeting agenda to give your members a chance to catch up and discuss.
Having a well-organized presentation for the AGM is key. You want the members to see a Board who is confident in the work that they have completed and the best way to do that is to have a presentation that is clear and concise. To do this, it’s best to work ahead and ensure each presenter’s information and slides are done well in advance so they can be reviewed and refined. You may also choose to do a walkthrough. This allows the board to understand if everything is covered as well as it should be and provides those who are presenting the opportunity to shake out any nerves they have.
The presentation obviously should follow the agenda and include all of the pertinent required information. However, you may also want to present information to pull your members together. Such as:
Volunteer recognition or awards
Club, coach, or athlete high achievements
Sponsor or Donor recognition
Annual general meetings are an important factor in the governance of a sports club. The actual logistics and planning of the AGM have many moving parts and details that need to be covered well in advance.
Your preparation combined with appropriate notification and advanced information to your members will greatly improve your chances of running a smooth and effective AGM.
Be sure to read How to Run an AGM.