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How to Run a Successful Nonprofit Board Meeting: Key Takeaways

Kiwi Partners’ Head of Accounting services, Ken Hafner, recently participated in a panel discussion “How to Run a Successful Nonprofit Board Meeting” at the NYN Media Nonprofit BoardCon on February 28, 2024 in New York City. 

If run effectively, board meetings can move a nonprofit closer to its goals. They can provide support and encouragement to its staff.  Board meetings are a time for the team to come together to collaborate on an organization’s goals and strategize how to make progress toward those objectives. They need to be run orderly with a set beginning and end times, a clear agenda, allowance for clear communication and an opportunity to raise new ideas which should be recorded allowing for further review later.  Plans, cohesiveness and communications are all essential for a successful meeting. 

Here are some insights from the panel discussion: 

Preparation is Key: Ensure all board members receive the agenda and relevant materials well in advance. Encourage them to review and come prepared to contribute meaningfully to discussions.  

Leverage Committees: Establish a finance committee to conduct thorough due diligence to ensure fiscal responsibility and oversight. Select members with financial expertise to meet regularly, review financials closely and monitor budget vs. actual performance throughout the year. Additionally, maintain an audit committee to oversee the auditing process periodically. 

Start with a Clear Agenda: Craft a concise agenda outlining the topics to be discussed and allocate appropriate time for each item. Stick to the agenda to maintain focus and efficiency. Allow board members to review agenda and provide time during the beginning of the board meeting for any adjustments. 

Keep it Concise and Clear: According to experts, speakers have 7 seconds to capture the attention of their audience. For finance committee members, present financial information succinctly during board meetings and avoid excessive detail. Utilize visual aids such as graphs and charts, to enhance understanding and communicate your financial story. Save in-depth discussions for finance committee meetings. 

Stay on Schedule: Respect the time commitments of board members by starting and ending the meeting punctually. Allocate sufficient time to each agenda item and if necessary, table non-urgent topics for future sessions. It’s important that someone, preferably the Board chair, manages the time allotted for each agenda item during the meeting. 

Executive Sessions: Hold executive sessions following the board meeting to address confidential matters or sensitive issues separately from regular proceedings. 

Offer flexibility: Provide in-person and hybrid meeting options to accommodate diverse preferences and logistical considerations, ensuring broader participation and engagement. 


  • Charlie Pane, Outreach and Engagement Manager, Cornell Cooperative Extension (Moderator)

  • Ken Hafner, Head of Accounting Services, Kiwi Partners

  • Lindsay Ornstein, Co-Founder, Open Impact Real Estate

  • Nick Brasse, Chief of Staff, Volunteers of America - Greater New York

Ken Hafner joined Kiwi Partners in 2001 and is a pivotal member of the leadership team. As head of accounting services, he collaborates with leadership to align the firm's strategic goals and craft impactful strategies for their accomplishment. Ken's responsibilities encompass the preparation of forward-looking financial statements, oversight of client monthly and quarterly financial reporting, annual budget and audit preparation, and attending Board meetings to provide CFO-level counsel.  

Contact Kiwi Partners today to explore how our outsourced accounting, HR, consulting, or analytics services can empower and support your organization's growth and success. 


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