Sporting Club Annual General Meetings …. I’ve attended many over the years and they’ve pretty much always been the same – interested club members come together for the annual meeting, the President provides a report, and the treasurer as well. Club members then elect their office bearers for the next twelve months and the meeting closes; normally to be followed by the first general committee meeting of the year. We then all go home.
But in a time of social distancing, brought about by a coronavirus pandemic, many clubs have been left wondering how they go about conducting their next AGM, which typically needs to be held within three to six months from the end of a Club’s financial year. Restrictions have been relaxed somewhat, over recent weeks, to allow greater numbers of people to get together and, with potential further restrictions expected to be relaxed in the coming weeks, several sporting clubs are now taking this opportunity to schedule their AGMS. But what if you’re club has a large number of committee members or has other club members, who are entitled to attend, wishing to be present at that meeting? And, what if a gathering of that size is still not allowed under the restrictions, in place, at the time that the meeting is due to be conducted?
Over the past couple of months many of us have got used to having meetings via media platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Webex and Facebook Messenger. Although, very few sporting clubs would have utilized this technology before, maybe now is the time? Provided your club is still adhering to your club rules (constitution), then clubs are able to utilize such online tools to host an AGM. Some constitutions may expressly acknowledge the use of technology for Annual General Meetings however, provided that your rules do not state that the club cannot provide for electronic meetings, then any club is entitled to do so.
When organizing an online annual general meeting, there are a few things that need to be considered. Firstly, it is important that you issue the notice for your AGM as usual, and in accordance with your constitution, and ensure that the notice informs members that the meeting will be held electronically. In preparing for the meeting, clubs also need to make sure that all reports and documents to be considered at the meeting, including the Annual Financial Statement, are provided to members either via email or other electronic means. Also, ensure that this information is provided to members as far in advance as possible; a one-week minimum being the rule of thumb. Furthermore, when the notice is sent and previous AGM minutes and the current reports are provided to members, members should be asked to submit any questions they have to a dedicated email address so answers to questions received can be prepared and provided prior to the meeting. These questions can be referred to and read out with their answers at the meeting if necessary.
When it comes to hosting the meeting, there are a few other things to consider. When it comes to choosing an appropriate platform, make sure that you choose one that allows you to register attendees so that you can track which members are attending your AGM and record who is present in the virtual meeting room. At this point in time, you will also need to ensure that the meeting still meets quorum requirements as outlined in the constitution. The chair should ensure that the meeting stays on track, follows the agenda, and ensures that it is clear when the meeting is moving to a new agenda item. Following the meeting, minutes will need to be prepared, as per usual and, within them, it will need to be recorded that the meeting was held electronically.
Yes, the COVID-19 has generally had a negative effect on our day to day lives, but let’s remember the silver linings. For one, it has meant a greater reliance on online tools and given us more confidence to use such tools as a means of getting together. As things gradually return to normal, there isn’t any reason why we can’t continue to use these means of electronic communication when hosting future club meetings. Club members can join meetings from any part of the world and sometimes, the warmth of staying at home, can be a better option than making a trip to the sports clubs to be present in person. My recommendation is that Clubs should be considering the benefits of online meetings going forward in a post-pandemic future.