Consent Agendas: What They Are and How to Use Them

by | Sep 30, 2022 | Board Development

Consent agendas offer a practical solution for decision-makers who want to maximize every minute of a board meeting.

What exactly is a consent agenda?

A consent agenda, also known as a “consent calendar” in Robert’s Rule of Order, refers to individual points of discussion that are bundled into a single action item.

Benefits of Consent Agendas

The advantages of consent agendas include:

  1. Boards can approve all actions with one single motion instead of filing multiple motions.
  2. Minimized discussion around routine action items saves valuable time.
  3. Expanded opportunities to engage in strategic discussions and action planning.

For consent agendas to function, all topics included must be familiar, require no discussion, and involve no conflict.

Boards can streamline consent agenda processes by approving a list of items that can be included in the consent agenda of regularly scheduled meetings. They can also ensure that all decision-makers receive copies of the agenda and supporting documents in advance of meetings. The distribution schedule should allow members enough time to review and clarify content prior to arrival at the meeting. Should a member feel that an item included in the consent agenda requires further discussion, they may make a motion to move the item from the consent agenda to the regular meeting agenda.

Agendas in Practice

The most common information captured in consent agendas includes:

  1. Approval of minutes from the previous meeting
  2. Committee or staff reports
  3. Financial reports
  4. Presentation of information that requires no action
  5. Appointment schedules (upcoming meetings dates, etc.)
  6. Action items that adhere to bylaws
  7. Updates to organizational information (mailing address, phone, correction of typographical errors, etc.)
  8. Revision of policies that are routine in nature (updating dates, contact information, etc.)
  9. Action items that were discussed in detail previously and await a final vote.

Are you using consent agendas? Do you want to know more about conducting meetings that work? Our Leadership Development Webinar Series dives into the nuts and bolts of great meetings.

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