COVID-19 Updates: For the most up-to-date information on accessing our services learn more here.

Your First Nonprofit Board Meeting | Historic Preservation | Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

How to Ensure Your First Nonprofit Board Meeting is a Success

Your First Nonprofit Board Meeting | Historic Preservation | Wisconsin Historical Society

Under Wisconsin law, the board of your new nonprofit organization will have its first official meeting after you create your organization and file your articles of incorporation. Either your board members or your incorporators can hold the meeting. When you are planning your first board meeting, you may want to consider these tips for holding a successful meeting. As your board gets under way, you may want to read this information about why nonprofit boards fail.

Create a Busy Meeting Agenda

Your first board meeting will have a busy agenda. At this meeting, the attendees should do the following:

  • Approve your bylaws
  • Appoint officers
  • Establish a committee structure
  • Set your accounting period and tax year
  • Approve initial transactions, such as setting up a bank account
  • Approve membership dues (if you are a membership organization)
  • Authorize your IRS application for tax-exempt status (or review the status of the process if the application is already under way)

Your new board members should get familiar with their functions and responsibilities. They may also want to review these best practices for operating a nonprofit organization.

Keep Your Records Together

Make certain that you record meeting minutes at your first board meeting. Put your meeting minutes and other incorporating documents together in one packet. Keep a complete copy of these records in your office or other easily accessible location and the original in an off-site firebox or in a safety deposit box at a financial institution.

The contents of this packet should include the following records:

  • Certificate of incorporation (containing your articles of incorporation)
  • Bylaws
  • Minutes of your founding organizational meeting (or first directors' meeting)
  • A list of the names and addresses of your directors
  • A membership roster listing the names and addresses of your current members (if you have members)
  • Minutes of all annual and special meetings of directors and members (if any)
  • Written consents to any actions taken by the board or members

This packet of records can answer basic internal questions, but it is also invaluable during audits. Sponsors may also request this information before they will donate large sums of money to your organization.

Learn More

Find more how-to articles about historic preservation advocacy.

You can learn more about nonprofit operations from the Nonprofit Management Education Center offered by the Center for Community and Economic Development, which is part of the University of Wisconsin Division of Cooperative Extension. This resource includes a library of articles and an Organizational Assessment Tool.