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Taking minutes
Excerpts from Leader Link, October 2003 (full article)

Minding the Meeting's Minutes

Taking minutes is balancing act between capturing what happened, and overloading the minutes with unnecessary detail. Unfortunately, quite a few first-time volunteers get thrown into this role. In fact, it is one of the most critical roles on a board or in a committee.

What should I include?
What does need to be included is any action taken, highlights of any report given, and any requests for board consideration or action. This includes:

  • purchase of equipment not already in the budget,

  • expenditure of any unbudgeted funds,

  • changes to policy or procedure (some of which may need to be approved by the constituency – members – and possibly the state board),

  • pricing changes (newsletters subscription fees, conference fees, and advertising rates),

  • election results (or any change to the board or committee officer structure, including presidential/chair appointments),

  • award proposals and acceptances,

  • any vote taken by the board, and

  • any item upon which the board reached consensus.

How much of the discussion need to be included? 
Only the highlights. In fact, in many legal circles you are taught not to include the names of the people who made and seconded the motions. Instead the record just needs to show that there was a motion, a second, and whether the motion was carried or not.

Minutes should reflect both the meeting agenda, and the actual order of events... Write the minutes in the order of the activities (with the item numbers from the agenda unchanged), and note that the minutes were written in the order in which the items were discussed. Items added to the agenda at the meeting should be given action item numbers starting from the next available number. (Sample agenda)

All official meetings should have minutes taken and kept for your protection and for the protection of CWEA. After your minutes are taken, they should be reviewed by the board/committee at the following meeting and amended and approved as necessary. (This action of approving the minutes will appear in that meeting’s minutes.)

This formal acceptance of the meeting record reduces the likelihood that something was incorrectly recorded. Copies of the minutes should be forwarded to the CWEA office after they are approved. And, any tape recordings or meeting notes destroyed. This helps when the auditor needs to know at which meeting  a particular action to was taken, and to reduce the amount of paperwork you as a volunteer need to keep hidden in your office or home.

Further Reading: The Art of Taking Minutes, by Delores Dochterman.

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