[Osmf-talk] Guests at board meetings

Holger Schöner numenor at ancalime.de
Mon Dec 8 21:40:17 UTC 2014


Am 07.12.2014 um 20:35 schrieb Frederik Ramm:
> Chris,
> On 12/03/2014 03:58 PM, Chris Fleming wrote:
>> indeed I don't think there is any reason not to invite non board
>> member to board meetings, they just don't have a vote.
> Your comment above has resulted in one person asking whether they could
> join board meetings as a guest.
> It isn't something the board has considered in the past and it's likely
> not something that we'll introduce in a rush but I'd be very interested
> to hear of other, similarly organized nonprofits and how they handle the
> issue.

I am member of a German national alumni association, and have (several
years ago) served for two years on its board.

In that organization, board meetings take place about 6-8 times a year,
often personally during national events, sometimes in the association's
office or at one or the other officer's home, once or twice a year also
via skype.

The agenda for those meetings is sent around on the members' email list
before the meetings (1-4 weeks, usually), and everybody is invited to
participate. Minutes of the meetings are circulated some time (maybe a
month?) after the meetings (only available for members for download from
the association's web pages; sometimes also as summary on the members'
email list).

Naturally, participation in board meetings is higher when such meetings
occur during national events, or via skype. According to my memory,
there are between 0 and maybe 6 members (beside those serving on the
board) participating; sometimes because they are interested in a
particular topic, sometimes because they are working together with the
board/an officer on a topic, sometimes just because of general interest.
To set these numbers into context, there are about 1000 members in that
association, of which about 60-160 usually participate in the national

Even the public (usually in form of alumni from foreign countries,
usually not members of the German association) can participate in the
meetings (if they learn about them). Although, IIRC, the board might
rule against such participation; I am aware of only one such occasion,
where someone at an event wanted to participate and considered writing
about the meeting/event in some magazine/blog/...(?); in the end, I
think, he was allowed to participate, but had to pass what he intended
to write by the board.

No one beside the board members themselves is allowed to participate
in/attend during agenda items concerning membership status (maybe other
privacy relevant topics as well), like discussions/decisions about
membership applications/leaves or expulsions (although I am not aware of
any incidents of the latter).

I do not know what would happen if participation by non-board-members or
even the general public would be much higher; but in our case, the
meetings are still quite focused work meetings, and sometimes the guests
can provide valuable input in discussions.

Regarding the OSMF board, I would think that a possibility for joining
board meetings as a guest would (among other advantages) allow potential
new board candidates to gain some insight into the workings of the
board, the effort needed for serving on it, and whether that would be
something they could imagine doing.

Best regards, Holger
Holger Schoener		numenor at ancalime.de

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