I recently received an invitation to an annual general meeting (AGM) for an association of which I am a member. My first instinct was to ignore the email and not attend the AGM, especially since it is not part of the annual conference and it will be held virtually this year. What value can I as a member bring to the AGM? Do I really want to spend part of my busy day listening to a meeting drone on and on? That is a common line of thought for many association members. So, how do we, as association leaders, encourage participation and create value for members in attending AGMs especially when they are virtual meetings?

Having managed two virtual AGMs this month, I realized the importance of members being involved and attending AGMs and how a poorly attended meeting can reflect on the organization. Both associations barely met their quorum of 5% of association members in attendance. Personally, I feel that this was direct proof that associations need to involve their members in association matters. Part of this can be a result of the communications provided to members—communication methods, content, and that value within. See the following article on more information on effective member communication with members.

The purpose of an AGM is to:

  • Approve any changes to bylaws, rules, or agreements
  • Review the audited financial statements for the year
  • Appoint the auditor for the association
  • Elect directors to the association
  • Discuss the business of the association and concerns of members

It is also an additional avenue for reaching out to the association membership. Board members get to meet members while members find out if they are receiving their return on investment from their membership.

For a full overview of AGM planning, read my colleague’s article How to Prepare for your Association’s Annual General Meeting.

How to Make Attending a Virtual AGM Worthwhile to Members

Town Hall Meetings

Provide members with opportunities to ask questions to the association leaders and create dialogue about issues that affect their profession. They can also learn how the association is ensuring that the needs of its members are being met. These town halls can still exist virtually while we continue to navigate through our socially distanced environment. The most important consideration is to have a system for questions and a moderator assigned to ask the questions to the board of directors.

Networking opportunities

Some organizations are holding events such as trivia nights, happy hours, or coffee conversations to bring members together in hopes to create a substitute for an in-person setting.

Education sessions

Adding an accredited education session to the AGM timeslot will provide extra value to association members to help them achieve their continuing education credits that would normally be achieved at an in-person meeting.

Set a good example

It is also important to ensure that the chair is engaged and putting energy into the meeting and is representing their association in a positive light. Make sure communications reflect the personality of the association and by encouraging two-way dialogues with members.

In Conclusion

These are only a few methods for incentivizing attendance achieving quorum at an AGM. As it is mandatory to achieve quorum to pass all motions, there are few things worse than sitting on pins and needles as an AGM begins, hoping more members will show up. For virtual AGMs, associations must get creative and provide valuable reasons to attend through alternative avenues. However, the most important incentive for attending an AGM is for members to feel that they are contributing to the association and actively participating in the community.

Learn more about remote AGMs in my past article In-Person vs. Teleconference Association Annual General Meetings.