The annual general meeting (AGM) is an important event for every organisation as it gives the ordinary members, general public and the committee an opportunity to review the state of the organisation. A poorly prepared and conducted AGM can often cause difficulties for the coming year. It can fail to attract new members or office bearers for election or fail to motivate old members. This can lead to the organisation losing its sense of purpose. Because of the number of participants, an AGM is usually a more formal meeting.
If your organisation is incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act, the committee needs to comply with certain requirements under this Act. Your rules usually outline these requirements, and you should be familiar with them. The AGM usually needs to be held at least once every 12 months and must be within 6 months of the close of the organisation’s reportable financial year. (If the association is incorporated less than 3 months before the end of its nominated financial year, the first reportable financial year will not be until the end of the following financial year, i.e. up to 15 months after incorporation.)
For an organisation incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act the following process is usual. The Secretary’s Handbook for Queensland Incorporated Associations provides detailed information on AGMs.
Preparation for the AGM
Under the Act, the Secretary is responsible for calling all general meetings, and also for preparing notices of a meeting and the business to be conducted (in consultation with the president/ chairperson). The Secretary is also responsible for keeping the minutes of all meetings. Meetings may be conducted using appropriate communication technology.
The treasurer will arrange to have the accounts prepared after the close of the financial year and forward them to the auditor. The auditor should be notified of the date of the AGM so that the accounts are returned on time.
Normally, the financial statement for the year is available to the members before or, at the very least, at the AGM. Often these are forwarded to the members with the notice advising of the date of the AGM.
Usually at least 14 days notice of the AGM needs to be given to all members, but in some cases the management committee can determine how this notice is to be given. For example, you can either write to all current members or place an advertisement in the newspaper, or both. Notices of the meeting in the local media may encourage others to join and volunteer their services.
A minimum quorum for any general meeting for an incorporated association is at least one more than the number of members elected or appointed to the management committee (unless all of the association's members are on the management committee, in which case it is one fewer than the number of management committee members). Any decision made at the meeting is not valid if there is not a quorum.
Careful arrangements need to be made by the outgoing committee to have a successful AGM. Consider having a display of the organisation's activities during the year, invitations to local dignitaries, inviting a special guest speaker, and approaching people to stand as office bearers and committee members prior to the meeting.
Holding of the AGM
There are some similarities and some differences between the way an Annual General Meeting and a general (ordinary, monthly) meeting are conducted. The main differences are:
- The minutes that are confirmed are those of the previous AGM, that is, one year ago.
- If the chairperson is standing for re-election to any position on the committee, then the chairperson should vacate the chair and another person, who is not intending to stand for the committee, should conduct the election of new office bearers. (The election can take place by a show of hands or by secret ballot.)
A typical agenda for the AGM might include:
- Welcome by chairperson
- Confirmation of minutes of the previous AGM
- Business arising from the minutes
- Chairperson's report
- Treasurer's report and presentation of audited financial statement
- Chairperson stands aside if required
- Election of Office Bearers
- Public Liability Insurance
- General business
- Guest speaker
- Date of next meeting
- Close and refreshments
Tasks after the AGM
The Office of Consumer Affairs needs to be advised within one month, if a new secretary, president or treasurer has been appointed. The secretary is required to lodge with the Office of Consumer Affairs the audited financial statement (which is the annual return of the members of the management committee) and a return fee, within one month of the AGM. The outgoing officers should hand over all documents and attend to any changes such as alteration of bank signatories or changed details of committee members.