Action Items List will improve board followup

word followup with marker

© Can Stock Photo/ivelinradkov

At our nonprofit workshop last Saturday, someone asked, “How can you get board members to do what is agreed upon by the group at large?” One of the best tools to improve board followup is an Action Items List.

This is a simple document, maintained by the secretary, that lists each action a board member has agreed to undertake. We recommend a table in landscape format, with columns for the task, the date assigned, the date due, who is responsible, and the status. Ideally, an updated list goes out with each agenda, so everyone knows where things are.

It’s remarkable how easily tasks can slip between the cracks. By using an Action Items List, all board members can keep focused, accomplish their tasks, and better serve your nonprofit organization.

Sample Action Items List

The Dinoville Service Club planned its annual Halloween Party at its meeting on October 1. Here is the Action Items List from its October 15 board meeting.

ACTION ITEMS LIST as of October 15, 2018 Board Meeting

Date assignedTaskResponsibleDate dueStatus
Oct. 1, 2018Confirm venueSocial ChairOct. 10, 2018complete
Oct. 1, 2018Buy balloonsParty GuyOct. 31, 2018complete
Oct. 1, 2018Buy candyActive DadOct. 31, 2018in process
Oct. 1, 2018Create costumesBoard membersOct. 31, 2018in process

Integrate Action Items List into the agenda

At some point near the beginning of the meeting, the secretary should review the list with the board noting any status changes. While completed items can be dropped off the list, a record of them should be kept and can be used in communications with nonprofit stakeholders via a newsletter, annual report, or some other communication channel.

At the end of the board meeting, the secretary should review any additions to the Action Items List that were made during the meeting. This way any errors can be corrected, and all responsible parties are clear on their tasks.

Improve board followup

We also recommend keeping a separate list of all motions passed by the board. Using an Action Items List will improve board followup and strengthen your nonprofit board’s significant work for your community.

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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.