In this episode, Renata discusses Annual General Meetings and why sports clubs need to get back on the bandwagon of having them. While it’s not only a legal requirement for nonprofits, it’s also a great way to get your membership on board when trying to move your organization forward and have them get engaged in your success.
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Hello everyone and welcome to today’s episode of Your Sports Resource Podcast. My name is Renata Porter, and I wanted to talk to you today about AGM’s or Annual General Meetings and why they are so important.
Over the last couple of years, many sports clubs have had to shift how they operate due to COVID restrictions, and a lot of those clubs didn’t quite keep up with everything they would normally do, and one of those areas are the AGM’s.
And I would really like to ask those clubs who are nonprofits and have a requirement to share information with their membership once a year to get back into the habit of having their AGM’s. I’m going to outline several reasons for this today and I would also like to ask those of you who are running a for-profit club. You might consider going a bit deeper than just your normal yearly or seasonal parents’ meeting.
Maybe you think about incorporating some of the states of the business into that meeting to deepen your relationship with your members. So, instead of calling it an AGM, it’s just something that you would include so they understand the state of your business.
So first, let’s talk about what an AGM is. So depending on the state where you’re located and your bylaws, there are laws and requirements that govern how meetings should be carried out, and the annual general meeting is one of those, and usually is required to keep your charitable status.
But think of the AGM as how you keep your members fully informed of the key practices and events for your club. You, as a board member should be transparent with your members and fully comply with all external and internal regulations.
So, if the law requires you to show your financial status, then you must be transparent in showing your full financial status as an example.
As a rule, or as a general rule, and again, this will vary slightly depending on your state and the bylaws. AGM’s happen yearly, hence the word annual and financial statements are presented and approved.
You might have certain reports that are required to deliver. Usually, that’s a President’s report at a very minimum regarding the health or success of the club and where the issues that have been either resolved or where you need help.
You may elect board members. You may even have a large item up for a vote. So for example, if you want to pursue a large capital project, you know building a building. Depending on your bylaws, you might need a majority vote from the membership for that.
Often an attempt to move the club forward translates into a large undertaking, both financially and operationally, and even if you don’t need their vote, it’s really important for them being the membership to support the effort and recognize what is needed.
That way you have buy-in and you’re not facing those one-off fights with members who really aren’t up to speed because you didn’t address it properly. So, it’s a great way for someone to say, hey, I really support that, and I really want to be a part of that, right.
So, my point is, even if you don’t have to have the votes for a large capital project a lot of times because you haven’t brought everybody on board with you when you’re wanting to do something major like a capital project, or really anything that moves your club forward, it would be great to do that at the AGM so you get that right by in, ok?
Now in my experience, both as a board member and a consultant, if there have been any hiccups over the year, they are rarely shared with the membership, or at least not the full picture.
Now I don’t mean every little issue. I’m talking about things that are truly noteworthy. So, from my perspective, when the membership has a true and honest picture of what is happening. They are more likely to support you as a whole.
Yes, there will be those who are going to complain, but guess what? They’re going to complain them at home, no matter. So, if you are really transparent and present any problems you’re having or have had along the way, then you will garner the support, and dare I say it may be some solutions, right?
So, what do I mean by presenting things in the right way? To me, that’s giving the whole picture. So, what was the problem? Why is it a problem? Or was it a problem? What was done to solve it or what are some of the things you’re doing to solve it?
This really shows that you as a board member are thinking or as a board are thinking critically for the best outcome for the organization and not just throwing your hands up, right.
Then you can end it with. This is what we need, right? So, in order to solve this, we need this. Is there anyone out there who can help us with X? Or do you know of anybody that can help us with X? If so, please come and see us after the meeting, or email us whatever it may be.
Or if you fix the problem, you can then go over what lessons the board learned so you know how to handle it better next time. This leaves little room for negative complaining due to your presenting a whole picture and it gives you the opportunity to get help and support from your membership.
So, this is part of what should be presented to the membership at the AGM. As far as showing a whole picture and this is your opportunity to do that.
And here’s my biggest takeaway. I guess. Your membership should, and I say should because you’ve given a complete picture. But if you’ve given that complete picture, then they should have some sense of trust in their Board when they leave that AGM, you had a problem that you shared with the membership, and you handled it or learned from it, and that’s an amazing way to build trust with your membership.
So, this is why I say share a whole picture and take advantage of your AGM because it is a great way to build the bonds with trust and I think all too often what is shared with the membership is superficial and paints really not an accurate picture.
I don’t want to say it’s a false picture, it’s just not a complete picture and your membership isn’t stupid, right? They know or hear about issues. So, when you paint a, we are an amazing picture. You either end up losing trust because I do know differently, or you have a membership that thinks that everything is in hand, and you don’t have any problems and you don’t need any help.
Which brings me to my next point, which is engagement. So, a good reason to have your AGM’s and continue to have them year after year is to get that engagement, right.
Everyone struggles to get parents involved in their clubs. That’s why so many of them have this mandatory service policy. It’s usually to cover meets or competitions but making the service a requirement is due to not getting enough people to willingly volunteer. So, even though the AGM is only once a year. It’s a great way to showcase the great works and the good works. And the opportunities that are available that have all happened due to volunteers.
So, you can spend a portion of your time showcasing what was done via volunteers. Or you could say you know from the other side like this is what we wanted to achieve, but we weren’t able to ’cause we didn’t have enough volunteers. It really paints that really solid picture of how much a club can accomplish with the right volunteer.
And also, if I go back to the fact that some clubs are still struggling just to get back on their feet after COVID. I mean I have some clients that still can’t get parents to even go into the building even though it is allowed now.
But my point is that having an AGM or even a deeper state of the club meeting with the parents is a great way to have a bit of rah, rah, and a dose of reality to really pull them in. Suck them in.
Think about it, most families are, you know, just kind of ticking along in their own space, right? We all do that. We all have our work-family life routines. We make a lot of assumptions about a lot of things, right?
I’m going to the grocery store to get X because I know they’ve always got it, right. Everything is good with my son’s soccer team because he loves his coach and he’s smiling when he leaves the practice.
People won’t really stop and actually look for any other meaning outside of their own interest until you present them with that opportunity. So, for me personally, that’s how I got involved with charity work.
It wasn’t a Sports Club that I volunteered my time went, but I attended an AGM and I realized how much work was actually being done and how much it impacted my children. And it really just sucked me in. It pulled me in and I immediately after that AGM I asked how I could volunteer and help.
And two years later I ended up being the President of the board. That was a little bit of a quick transition, but the point is that the AGM showed me the state of play and it really sucked me into all the great works that the organization was doing, and I wanted to be a part of that.
So, think of your AGM as a way to garner engagement and demonstrate how much goes into the club to have the effect of your son being happy when he leaves the soccer practice right, there’s so much more to it.
On the website, www.yoursportsresource.com there are a few articles regarding: What is an AGM? How to run an AGM? There’s quite a few articles about that and there is one about How to Prepare for the AGM. So, what should happen? What reports to deliver ensuring that you understand your bylaws to run it correctly.
The article goes over things like logistics and how to notify everyone of what goes into the information packet for members. And it also talks about how to plan your agenda and how to create your presentation.
Now for you, not every bit of it will be applicable, because every club has different responsibilities, but it does provide quite a bit of detail that you should consider whether it’s part of your bylaws or not. And again, if you’re a for-profit organization. You should still consider having something like the AGM once a year.
I also want to point you to a tool that’s on the website, www.yoursportsresource.com and it’s a Why Should I Attend the Annual General Meeting. And this is for your members, and I put four points on here and I’d like to read them to you.
They’re kind of short and well to the point, but I think they’re really good items that you could share with your membership, so I’m just going to read this to you and that is; One, to hold the Board accountable. So, the Directors create policy and make decisions that have a direct impact on the membership. Your presence at an AGM allows you to hold the Board of Directors accountable and show your support for those decisions using your voting power to elect the best candidates and use your voice to get the answers to pertinent questions.
So, the reason why I put this way is because I like to try to stop all those little subversive little arguments that happened that dance around the topic instead of being upfront about them.
So, for you, I’m sure as a Board Member you hate it when people are having all these little side conversations and you know, just really just riling everybody up instead of let’s just address it and get it out of the way. So that’s my point to that.
The second area is to have an impact. Again, remember this is for the for the Members. Amendments to the club Constitution and bylaws are submitted to the organization by the Membership or by the Board themselves in advance of the AGM.
A time frame of submission of proposals is defined by the organization’s bylaws. But they should be at least 60 days prior to the AGM. These changes could have an effect on the organization and its members. Use your voting power to impact decisions that are best suited for the club.
The third reason why they should attend is to stay up to date. The main purpose of the AGM is to report to its membership. This includes reports from the President, Treasurer, Executive Director, Manager, and others.
Attending the AGM will provide you with insight into the performance and the direction of the organization. Depending on the size of the club, you may review or audit financial statements which will be presented as well.
Your voice at the AGM will allow for key questions to be asked or concerns to be raised that help the organization remain on task.
And the last area is to support the organization. Holding an AGM is a legal requirement and is hosted at a cost to the organization. If enough members do not attend, then the AGM would have to reschedule and be held at a later date at an additional cost to the organization.
Your attendance is a service to the organization as it affects the quorum, okay? So, you could download the sheet or you could take it and use it and create your own just to garner interest for your membership to show up at your AGM.
I guess the point I was trying to make today is don’t think of your AGM and having to have it every year as a burden. It is absolutely a tool to address the state of play, share the information with your membership, and being honest, and it can also get their buy-in so you can affect change, and do some major decisions, and move forward.
It allows us to stop all those little sides, you know, complaining conversations happening by addressing everything out in the open. And it also really will suck your membership in, okay.
So please get back on the bandwagon of having your AGM’s if you need to have them remotely then do it. The point is to follow your legal requirements as well as keeping your membership engaged.
If you don’t have the AGM’s meetings, you’re a for-profit organization. Consider having some sort of state of play organizational meeting at least once a year or once a season depending on your sports, and I really do believe you will reap the rewards of doing so.
Okay, thank you for listening today! And please subscribe, rate and review and share this podcast so more people can hear how they can improve the leadership of their Sports Club.