Tips & templates for charity trustee meetings

Trustee meeting templates

This post will help you run more efficient charity trustee meetings with a range of practical tips and free meeting agenda and meeting minutes templates. 


Building a good trustee board

Trustee meetings are only ever as good as the individuals involved so the first step to running a great meeting is ensuring you have the right people in the room. 

  • Understand the trustee roles needed
  • Get a good skills mix - our trustee skills audit can help highlight gaps
  • Maintain buy-in - you don't want half-hearted trustees
  • Define roles - everyone should know their unique contribution

How often to hold trustee meetings

The frequency of trustee meetings is a matter for the charity but it is important and is generally set out in the charity’s governing documents. If it isn’t, consider adding it. 

Even when a charity has an active membership, most meetings through the year will be only for trustees. Here is a typical schedule for a small charity:

  • Members meet once per year
  • Trustees meet every two months
  • Employed managers meet every month

Can we meet remotely?

Many large and well-run organisations routinely use video and audio conferencing technology to facilitate remote meetings. This can widen the pool of potential trustees and reduce inefficient travel time. However, if you choose to hold meetings remotely it is important to ensure you have invested sufficiently in technology and training as inadequate tools can disrupt a remote board meeting. 

Meeting agenda template

All good meetings start with a good agenda. This should cover:

  • Location
  • Start time and duration
  • Key items for discussion
  • Who is responsible for each discussion item
  • Where to find documentation for the meeting

You can download a trustee meeting agenda template below. 

Meeting minutes template

A good set of minutes is another crucial part of any well-run meeting. 

Do Don't
  • Note attendees and their roles
  • Record important decisions clearly
  • Highlight actions clearly
  • Record the entire discussion
  • Bury actions in long summaries

Specific items to include are:

  • Type of meeting
  • Date and time
  • Who attended and in what capacity
  • Notable absences
  • What was discussed
  • What was decided
  • Decisions made

How to share documents

When sharing documents among charity trustees there are typically three key concerns:

  • Security: documents may contain sensitive information.
  • Ease of access: digital competency may vary.
  • Efficient collaboration: can several people edit at once?

Many trustee boards still circulate documents by email in a desktop format (i.e. Word or Excel) but we recommend that trustee boards consider more modern file sharing systems that increase security and allow real-time collaboration. Leading examples are Office 365, Google Docs and Dropbox. Read more about these systems in our post on discounted software for charities.

Date: 
25 June 2018
Andy Pearson