There are some good guidelines, templates and best practices for taking meeting minutes, but there aren’t really any hard-and-fast rules about how to record meeting minutes. The same is true for advisory board meeting minutes. Boards have a lot of flexibility on how to manage them.

Some advisory boards are formal and have regular meeting schedules. Other advisory boards are rather informal and meet as needed or stand by as consultants and advisors for the full board.

Formality and structure aside, advisory boards should take a record of their meetings to preserve the details of their collaboration. Meeting minutes for advisory boards are much like meetings for a corporate board or a nonprofit board. Minutes closely follow the agenda for a board meeting. It’s less likely that advisory board meeting minutes would be called into a court of law, but it’s best to make sure they get documented in case they’re needed for any reason.

Many boards are switching from manual processes to digital solutions for governance. Advisory boards can use board portals and other digital solutions to streamline their work and get the same benefits as other types of boards.

Forming an Advisory Board Agenda

The advisory board’s meeting minutes are an expansion of their agenda, so if the agenda is short, the meeting minutes will also be short.

We can learn much about advisory board minutes by reviewing the agenda and minutes for a large, active advisory board. Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in Big Stone Gap, VA, formed an advisory board of members from the counties that the college serves. The advisory board is large, active and meets regularly. Their agenda looks very much like the agenda of other boards. Here is the template of one of their basic agendas:

  1. Welcome and call to order
  2. Approve the prior meeting minutes
  3. Reports
    1. Chair
      • Recognize and welcome guests
      • Recognize and welcome new board members
      • Pass out forms for committee preference
      • Note to save the date for a couple of events
    2. President’s report
    3. President’s staff reports
      • Academic and Student Services
      • Financial and Admin Services
      • Foundation and Institutional Advancement
    4. Committee reports
      • Executive Committee
      • Finance and Facilities Committee
      • Curriculum and Student Affairs Committee
    5. Old Business (many boards have updated this term to Unfinished Business)
    6. New Business
    7. Public comments/other
    8. Next meeting date
    9. Adjournment

Using the Agenda as a Template for Your Minutes

Similar to other board meeting minutes, the minutes for an advisory board should list the name of the organization; date, time and location of meeting; and type of board.

The next section shows the attendance. List the names of members who were present, members who were absent and any others who attended.

Next, the recorder should write a statement regarding who called the meeting to order and at what time.

The order of the agenda can change, but usually approving the past meeting’s minutes comes next. The recorder writes who moved and seconded to pass the meeting minutes.

Reports come next. In the case of MECC, the recorder wrote a short summary of the President’s report using bullets for the important points. Three presidential staff reports followed the President’s report, again, using bullets to separate points. Committee reports came next. The minutes indicated that there were no committee reports filed for this meeting.

The next items on the agenda were Unfinished Business and New Business, which only contained a short comment about the President distributing the Committee Preference forms.

Under Public Comments, a guest offered a compliment to the Board President and the recorder noted it in the minutes.

Finally, the recorder noted the time the meeting adjourned, along with an announcement of the next meeting’s date.

Advisory board meeting minutes aren’t considered official until they’re signed by the proper parties and dated. The recorder stated her name, and the President and Secretary to the Board signed and dated the minutes. The Board Chair/Vice Chair also signed and dated the minutes, stating that the advisory board approved them.

You’ll also note that this board included the following attachments with their meeting minutes:

  • List of internal/external activities for specified dates
  • Preliminary enrollment report
  • Other enrollment reports
  • Written President report
  • Personnel update
  • Finance report
  • Committee Preference form
  • Email about meeting date change

Now, let’s take a look at how much more streamlined the process can be when using board governance management software.

Using Board Governance Management Software for Minutes

Board governance management software provides all of the same benefits for advisory boards as for the boards that formed them. Board governance management software streamlines governance processes, creating efficiency.

MECC members hail from many different counties. The geographical differences may make it difficult to get the full board together often for meetings. Board portal software provides a secure platform for board members to communicate with each other and to share important documents.

If MECC chose to utilize board management software, they could have distributed the agenda and all of the attachments online instead of waiting on delivery times. When the meeting started, the recorder could use Diligent Minutes to pull in the agenda. It would pre-fill all or most of the attendees’ names automatically.

The board could vote electronically to pass the minutes from the previous meeting and sign off on it using the e-signature features. Diligent Boards and Diligent Minutes integrate fully with Diligent Messenger, a secure communications tool.

The recorder could add an action item for the MECC Advisory Board to complete and submit the Committee Preference Form and set up reminders for members to complete it.

Diligent Boards is mobile-friendly, which means that board directors can pull up documents and other information at a moment’s notice using any device they have at their fingertips. The board administrator can set up user permissions so that advisory board members can only access the parts of the protocol that they need for their meeting. There’s no need to wait for the board packet to arrive because advisory board directors can access the agenda and all other documents via the portal.

Another nice feature of Diligent Minutes is that it has export capability. Boards can export it into Microsoft Word for printing and sharing. This makes it easy to share advisory board meeting minutes with the full board.

The ease and convenience of board governance management software streamline the work of advisory boards, creating greater efficiency. Boards may get a return on their investment in board software by getting greater productivity and results from their advisory boards and making it easier to recruit new advisory board members.