Surviving your AGM

So, you are the president of a great little not-for-profit organisation and you have been for two years. For a variety of reasons you need to stand down at the next AGM (Annual General Meeting) but you are dreading that all too common sound of crickets as they call for nominations! You love your little sporting club/school P&C or P&F/community organisation, and you don’t want to leave it stranded. How can you move on without the guilt?

One answer is to plan for your AGM. By planning I don’t just mean working out where to hold the meeting and who is making the brownies (or bringing the wine). Plan your future committee before the deadline strikes. This can begin by simply having a chat to your current committee – who is considering nominating for another year? Is your fundraising officer (for example) interested in changing to an executive role? Who is definitely leaving the committee? If possible, I would recommend doing this about two months prior to your AGM date to allow enough planning time to attract new committee members.

Once you know what roles need to be allocated – you can start begging, I mean promoting the committee roles to other members of your group. The first step is to advertise by displaying posters around your facility asking members to express an interest in becoming a committee member. Now I don’t know about you but I often walk straight past a poster without even seeing it. So ensure it is bright, use a large font and keep the message as brief as possible to maximise your chances that people will read more than the first three words!

Another approach is a bulk email to your members. Again, keep the message brief and clear, possibly including a link to a separate document that will provide more detail about the committee roles to be filled if necessary. You may find that if you use a mail-out program such as Mailchimp you can make your email look more interesting; include some pictures and headings to clearly portray your information.

Posters are great but easily overlooked. Emails are easily ignored or deleted, or sometimes face the fate of the spam folder. Recipients may actually intend to respond to your email, but who hasn’t been distracted by fifty other emails, and then your email slips down the screen – out of sight, out of mind!

So what is the answer? In my experience, the simple act of talking to people produces the best results. Yes, I mean walking up to another person at your cricket club/pre-school/toy library etc. and introducing yourself to them! Let them know who you are and what you do on the committee. Explain to them what is required, how important the committee is to the longevity of the ‘club’ and why you need new volunteers to help out.

If they are still listening you can tell them that family always comes first and that you understand if they miss a meeting; tell them what you have learned from volunteering; assure them that their voices will be heard and that they will meet like-minded people who also love ‘your little club’. If necessary mention the free coffee and biscuits! You may need to talk to a few people but once you find one that is interested in listening, invite them to your next meeting and ask for their contact details so that you can send them a reminder to attend. Persistence and positivity can pay off.

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