Welcome to the Board Member Tool Box
How to run an effective Board Meeting
In order to be as effective as possible, boards should strive to conduct well organized and planned association meetings. While each board needs to find the right style and format for their meetings, the general principles of an effective meeting remain the same.
Here are some helpful tips to keep meetings effective:
- Limit meetings to one hour, two hours max. This will help prevent discussion burn-out.
- Set and distribute the agenda to all participants before the meeting. This allows members to come prepared to efficiently discuss and vote on agenda topics.
- Use Roberts Rules of Order.
- Encourage vendors to attend when applicable to explain proposals, review reports and answer member questions.
- When holding open membership meetings, have a participation procedure in place outlining proper meeting conduct. This will ensure everyone understands the rules of the meeting
- Stick to the agenda
When determining the format for your meetings, make sure to review your community bylaws and applicable state law for guidance on required structure and procedure.
If you are not familiar with Roberts Rules of Order, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the general principles. Following the outlined rules, or a relaxed version of the rules will help keep your discussions on track and ensure board votes are properly conducted and recorded. There are many helpful tools on utilizing Roberts Rules of Order available online.
If your Board needs additional resources or help with conducting an effective meeting, please reach out to our team and we will be glad to assist you!
Board member Rights and Responsibilities
As a board member, you likely know that you have certain responsibilities. Did you know that these responsibilities are outlined in your communities governing documents and in your state law? It is important to know that the responsibilities of an association board may differ from community to community. One thing many board members do not know, is that they also have rights as a board member. These rights come in the form of protection and availability of information.
As members of Community Association Institute (CAI), our team encourages the understanding of a board members rights and responsibility though this organization. You can access CAI’s document at
CAI – Homeowner Leaders Rights & Responsibilities.
If you feel that your Board is slacking on its responsibilities or being limited in its rights, please contact our team to see how we can help get things on track for your Board.
Each community comes with a unique set of governing documents. As a board member and leader in your community it is important that you take the time to understand and follow your governing documents as you manage the operations of your community.
As you review the several different types of documents specific to your association, you need to understand the purpose of each document as well as the applicable hierarchy. Understanding the hierarchy to your governing documents is key to navigating discrepancies you may identify within the different documents.
Below you will find a list of typical documents included in the “governing documents” umbrella. The list is in hierarchy order and provides a brief description outlining the purpose of each document type.
- Recorded Map, Plat or Plan – The plat map is recorded with the state prior to the first sale of a home in a planned community. This document outlines the community boundaries and identifies the location of units, lots and common area within the community.
- Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCR’s or Master Deed) – These documents outline the rights and duties of each owner within the association as well as applicable provisions related to areas such as association responsibilities, community restrictions and assessments.
- Article of Incorporation – Articles of Incorporation establish your association as a nonprofit corporation and outline important details such as date of incorporation, basic purpose of organization and outlines if stocks were issued. (Stocks will not normally be issued unless your association is classified as a cooperative.)
- Bylaws – Bylaws are documents that provide operational guidance for the association. They provide instruction to your board in areas such as quorum and meeting notice requirements, board election process and general board duties and powers.
- Board Resolutions – Board Resolutions are formally adopted motions made and document by the board to provide additional guidance on items such as architectural guidelines, community rules, community amenity rental process and/or delinquency collections.
- Architectural Guidelines – This document often provides details on the architectural approval process and includes clarifying details for general covenant restrictions, including outlining what is or is not allowed in the community.
- Community Rules & Regulations – This document provides more detailed guidance as to the specific rules and regulations of a community. It should be noted that rules outlined in this document shall not conflict with your association’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions/Master Deed.
- Amendments to Above Documents – From time to time an Association may determine an amendment to their original documents is necessary to properly meet the need of the Association. Amendments can provide clarification to your existing documents, add additional language or remove items that may no longer be applicable. When modifying your documents, it is important to note that as a general rule your amendment may not make the original document more restrictive than as originally drafted. Amendments should always be reviewed by your association’s attorney and will have the same hierarchy as the document it amended.
If your Board needs assistance in finding and/or understanding your Governing Documents, a member of our team would be happy to assist.
Sample Meeting Agenda
An agenda should be created and utilized as a road map for your Board to efficiently navigate both board meetings and community meetings. When developing your meeting agenda, you should take into consideration the standard order of business outlined by Roberts Rules of Order procedures. While your agenda will vary slightly depending on the type of meeting you are holding, we would recommend utilizing a format similar to the one outlined below.
- Call to Order/Opening of the Meeting
- The presiding officer or meeting chair should call the meeting to order once a quorum has been established.
- If your meeting is an open community meeting, you may want to add a Welcoming Statement section or Review of Agenda section immediately following the Call to Order.
- Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
- When approval minutes from a previous meeting, all applicable members of the group should have a had the opportunity to read the proposed minutes (a copy will often be distributed to the Board in their meeting packets). In lieu of reading the minutes and then formally approving, the presiding officer can simply ask if there is any objection to approving the minutes as read/distributed. If there are no objection, the minutes are approved.
- Board, Officer & Committee Reports
- This section of the agenda provides an opportunity for the members of the meeting to hear from your board, officers and/or committees that have current items of business that need to be addressed. It is recommended that the Board identify necessary items of discussion prior to the meeting and only calls on those with necessary reports.
- If your agenda is for Annual Meeting, this section may include a report from all Association Committees and/or a summarized Year in Review report from your Board.
- This section may also include a report from your Community Manager.
- Financial Review
- While this section is not outlined as part of Roberts Rules of Order, we recommend either including a Financial Review section under the Board/Officer/Committee Report section of your agenda or having a separate agenda item immediately following that section.
- If your meeting combines your Annual Budget Ratification into your Annual Meeting, we recommend your official budget ratification occur at the end of your financial review.
- Unfinished Business
- This section outlines any items that may have been carried over from previous meetings. If you had an item on a previous agenda and either did not reach a resolution or did not have time to address the item, this is the proper section for the agenda item to appear.
- New Business
- This section is where new items for review and consideration. As a best practice we recommend that Boards try to outline topics ahead of time that should appear in this section. However, per Roberts Rules of Order, the presiding officer should ask the members if there is any new business to be introduced during this time. If a member makes a motion and receives a second, the new item should be considered.
- Board of Directors Election
- If you are holding an Annual Meeting you will want to outline an agenda item specific for the election of directors.
- Adjournment (Closing of the Meeting)
- This section is simply where the meeting is adjourned. Traditionally adjournment is obtained by a motion being made and seconded and either receiving a majority vote or the presiding officer not hearing any objection to the motion to adjourn.
- Community Q&A
- As a best practice, our team recommends adjourning your meeting and then holding a community Q&A (applicable for open meetings). By adjourning the meeting prior to holding the homeowner Q&A, you are removing the need for your secretary to include any “off the record” discussions as part of the formal minutes of the meeting. It is important to remember that minutes should only include actions taken and the details supporting them, not general discussions or membership opinions.
To review the recommendations of parliamentarian, Jim Slaughter, please click the link below.
Order of Business – Jim Slaughter, www.jimslaughter.com
For additional guidance on preparing an effective meeting agenda, please contact our team.
Sample Meeting Minutes
When conducting meetings of the Association it is important that meeting minutes are kept. The recording of meeting minutes are normally required by your community’s bylaws as well as state statute. The duty of maintaining association records is often a task assigned to the board secretary. If you have volunteered to serve as your board secretary, don’t worry, meeting minutes are much simpler than you think.
According to Robert’s Rules of Order, “minutes should be a record of what happens at a meeting, not what was said by members or guests attending.”
Per Community Association Institute (CAI), meeting minutes should simply outline:
- Actions taken
- The reason why they were taken
- Board voting record on the topic
Meeting minutes should NOT include:
- The name of the person seconding a motion
- Remarks made by guests or board members on the subject
- Personal opinions on anything said
- Motions that were withdrawn (some exceptions due apply to this item per Roberts Rules of Order)
For more information on meeting minutes, please click the links below or contact our team to find how you can obtain a sample template for recording proper meeting minutes.
Attorney Jim slaughter – Meeting Minutes
Responsibilities of a Board Secretary (CAI)
Sample Code of Conduct Policy
As a board member you have the direct ability to set the tone of how your association will interact with its membership. By volunteering to serve on your community board, you are demonstrating a sense of investment in your community. In order to ensure your Board is able to successfully fulfill your good intentions, it is helpful to enact a standard code of conduct that board members must follow. According to the Community Association Institute (CAI), your code of conduct should foster an atmosphere of open discussion and debate as well as mutual respect and tolerance between all members of your community. We have included a sample code of conduct for your review below, but are also here to assist with any questions your Board may have.
- Sample Code of Conduct
- CAI – Board Ethics
In addition to a standard code of conduct for your Board, Kuester Management Group strongly supports CAI in suggesting that all communities adopt a civility pledge within their community. For more information on what a Civility Pledge is and how your Board can adopt it within your community, please click the link below.
For additional guidance on how to properly implement a Code of Conduct with your board, or enact the CAI Civility Pledge within your community, please reach out to our team.
New Board Member Orientation
Volunteering to serve your community as a member of its Board of Directors is a sign of dedication to your community. We appreciate the time commitment you have made and want to reassure you that our team is here to help you successfully navigate your new duties and responsibilities. If you have never served on a board before, you most likely have several questions about your new role. What does serving on a board mean? What are your responsibilities? What are your rights? What are your limitations?
The first thing to know about becoming a board member is that this responsibility encompasses more than just attending a meeting once in a while. Serving on your board is a commitment to running a business. It is your responsibility as a board member to understand the limitations and guidelines for your community, including your community specific governing documents as well as state and federal statutes and regulations. In addition, you are tasked with preserving and protecting your association by fulfilling fiscal responsibilities.
Does all of this sound overwhelming? Don’t worry, our team is here to help! We have a full team of professionally trained and credentialed Community Association Managers who are ready to help you successfully prepare for success in this new endeavor. We offer personalized bard orientation classes as well as general educational seminars.
In addition to our internal training programs, we also partner with top local association attorneys in both North and South Carolina at least one time each year to provide professional guidance on your legal rights and responsibilities as a board member.
If you are ready to get started, but are just in need of a little guidance as to how to get off on the right foot, please contact our team today and we will be happy to assist you as you begin your journey.
Board Training Seminars
As a board member, rather newly elected, or having sat prior, there is always an opportunity to learn in the ever-changing world of community associations. At Kuester Management Group we value the importance of education within our industry and strive to ensure our partner boards are well prepared to lead their community in a proactive and efficient manner. In order to allow your board to brush up on important topics and stay informed on the latest industry trends, our team offers board training seminars.
These seminars are held throughout the year on a number of topics that may be of interest to you. Topics can include
- Basic HOA Understanding
- Reserve Studies and Proper Planning
- Amenities Management and Maintenance
If there is a topic you would like to receive education on, or you would like to know when the next seminar is, please reach out to our team and let us know. An educated Board Member is one of the most effective tools that a Community can have!
Board Member Tool Kit
Volunteering to serve your community as a member of your Board of Directors is a commendable action. At Kuester we understand that serving on your board could easily become overwhelming as you begin navigating the intricacies of your community and figuring out how to best meet the needs of your homeowners.
As you begin your service adventure, we strongly suggest that you start by educating yourself on your new role. You will first want to take the time to read your community’s governing documents and review applicable state and federal statutes. If you have never served on an Association board before, it is also important to familiarize yourself with the role of a Board as well as the specific duties of the officer position you hold.
Our team is here to help provide the education and guidance you need to become an effective board member, if you would like discuss how we could assist with providing the guidance you need, please let us know.
The Community Association Institute (CAI) is a professional non-profit organization that also serves as a great resource as you begin familiarizing yourself on how to be an effective board member. The link below “Board Member Tool Kit” is a great comprehensive guide distributed by CAI that will provide insight to important topics such as: the role of your Board, an overview of officer positions, best practices for working with professional partners, how to find community volunteers and much more.
Keeping Board Meetings on Track
As a volunteer in your community, your time is valuable. We understand that you are a volunteer trying to balance your commitment to serving your community with other personal responsibilities. As you work to balance your time commitment to your community, it is imperative that your board meetings stay on track. We often see board meetings continuing for multiple hours with little to no productivity. At Kuester we believe that productive board meetings should not require more than two hours of your time, with most meetings being completed within an hour.
The key to successful and effective meetings starts with preparation. The old adage of “plan the work and work the plan” is quite applicable for board meetings. In order to complete proper planning, you need two key tools, your agenda and the use of Robert’s rules of order.
Your agenda will serve as your plan or road map for the meeting. Best practice guidelines suggest that your board president should work cohesively with your community manager to develop the meeting agenda in advance of the meeting. When preparing the agenda, it is important to solicit input from the entire board to ensure all members of your board have the opportunity to feel like they are a valued part of your team. If board members have recommended agenda topics, these items should be included as time allows. If your board finds that there are too many topics on your agenda, you should consider reserving topics that are not time sensitive for future meetings.
Once the agenda is complete, it should be distributed to your board for review and consideration. By distributing your agenda and applicable meeting material to your board before the meeting date, you allow everyone to come to the meeting prepared to effectively discuss your agenda topics. If you find your board is often getting stuck on one or two agenda topics or getting off topic from time to time, we suggest that your board consider utilizing a timed agenda. A timed agenda allocates a specific amount of time for each agenda item and is often a great way to keep your meetings moving forward in an efficient manner. Timed agendas are especially helpful when your board has a large list of topics to discuss during a specific meeting.
Once you have your agenda, it is important to pair it with the utilization of Robert Rules of Order, or a relaxed version if your group is small. Robert’s Rules of Order provides guidance on how to properly run a meeting and ensures your board is able to move forward in a productive manner. The guidelines keep conversations civil and moving forward. With a proper process for addressing and reviewing actions presented to your board you are able to keep your board focused on the tasks at hand.
For additional information on running an effective meeting, please review the links below posted by local association attorneys or contact our team to schedule a personal guidance session.
- Jim Slaughter – Keeping Meetings on Track
- Tim Sellers – Making Roberts Rules of Order work for You