Checklist: Attendance at board meetings

By governance expert Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson
Mike Hudson

Good attendance at board meetings is a prerequisite for effective governance. Most boards meet between three and six times a year, so missing one leaves a considerable gap.

Members who do not attend a high proportion of meetings disrupt the flow of governance work and the continuity of teamwork on the board.

Research by the Compass Partnership, of which I am director, found that most large charities achieve attendance of more than 80 per cent. But a fifth of large charity boards do not have formal expectations, and those tend to have lower attendance rates than boards that state their requirements.

The chair is responsible for ensuring good attendance. Establishing clear expectations before members are appointed and taking quick action when a member's attendance falls below the agreed threshold help to maintain good attendance.

Some organisations have rules to manage attendance, such as only one absence a year or making trustees explain their absence to the chair.

More recently, some have started to publish individual attendance in their annual report. These actions help to ensure the highest levels of attendance.

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