Question: Secretary/Minutes

How do I get our secretary to type up the minutes and forward them to the board in a timly manner or at all?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Unfortunately, the problem you're facing isn't uncommon. The secretary's job is probably the most straightforward on the board, especially in groups where the only formal duty is to take minutes and provide them for approval. But it often seems to be a problem. I think the reason may be that people who are doing the job half-heartedly don't see the importance of minutes. You run a meeting, make decisions, everybody gets their assignments -- what difference does it make if the minutes are accurate, or if they even get done at all? Won't they just gather dust on a shelf somewhere? Of course, as any veteran PTO leader knows, minutes can provide an invaluable reference when nobody can quite remember what was decided, they can be essential to help settle disputes, and good minutes provide a valuable reference about how things were done in previous years when the board turns over. There's one more thing, too, that I don't think most secretaries know and a lot of PTO presidents might not, either. In addition to being a good reference, the minutes are actually a legal document. Nonprofits are expected to retain their minutes permanently. The minutes can be used to show that you acted responsibly, for example, if there's ever a liability claim against your group, or that you have acted in accordance with your mission if the IRS threatens to take away your tax-exempt status. All that is a long-winded way to say make sure your secretary understands that minutes are important; typing up the minutes isn't just busy work. Set real deadlines for your secretary (ie tell her when you really need the minutes vs. setting an artificial deadline a week ahead of time) and create real consequences if the minutes aren't ready -- for instance, consider canceling a board meeting because the minutes aren't ready. Show her by your actions, not just your words, that the minutes are important. And be persistent. If the problem continues, appoint an "assistant" and let the assistant take the minutes and transcribe them. Your secretary can "oversee" the work or she can take on other responsibilities -- perhaps become a corresponding secretary rather than a recording secretary, taking responsibility for areas like group correspondence or even the newsletter instead of taking the minutes. If you need to spin this, tell her you have a new and important duty you need her to do and certainly don't expect her to take on both taking the minutes and doing this new duty. Good luck. Please keep us posted on how things go!

Community Advice

Critter writes:
I'm dealing with the same problem right now. I don't have it worked out, but I did post some documents to the File Exchange on this website that I'm using to help our Secretary. Look for a Minutes Style Guide, a template for minutes, and a timeline for completing the minutes. Maybe if you share "how to" from an independent source (ptotoday), you'll look instructive not just frustrated.

Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Here are links to the three documents Critter mentions: style guide for PTO meeting minutes, template for meeting minutest, and timeline for meeting minutes.

Answer this question: