Secretariat to a Not for Profit Board………… more than taking minutes?


…… an office responsible for the secretarial, clerical, and administrative affairs of a legislative body, board/executive council, or organisation.

A number of tasks can fall under the heading of secretariat responsibilities. In organisations with a volunteer Board, the roles of the Secretary and Public Officer are often undertaken by the CEO and staff.

Providing clarity as to who does what is essential to good governance. Establishing policies and procedures that clearly outline the responsibilities of Board Members and the Secretariat, will ensure that essential records are maintained, reporting carried out and the Constitution adhered to.

Organisations are required by law to maintain records for several purposes, including:

  • Accurate recollection of decisions
  • Determination of eligibility to vote
  • Continuity of policies and practices
  • Accountability of directors and officers

An effective and efficient Secretariat ensures that accurate and sufficient documentation exists to meet legal requirements and enables authorized persons to determine when, how, and by whom the board’s business was conducted. Minute taking, coordination of meetings and maintenance of records are vital to the sustainability and compliance of an organisation governed by a Board.

Minute taking

Requirements of minutes can vary according to the jurisdiction but should include at a minimum:

  • date, time, location of meeting
  • list of those present and absent
  • list of items discussed
  • list of reports presented
  • text of motions presented and description of their disposition

Coordination of meetings

An effective Secretariat can assist a volunteer Board to contribute effectively and work cohesively.

  • Establish meeting dates for the Board and Sub-committees by determining members’ availability, ensuring quorum
  • Prepare and distribute Board and committee packages

Records and administration

The secretariat ensures that the records of the organization are maintained as required by law and made available when required by authorized persons. These records may include founding documents (Constitution), lists of directors, board and committee meeting minutes, financial reports, and other official records. To maintain compliance and adherence to legislative and constitutional requirements it is essential that;

  • Official records are maintained of members of the organisation and Board, ensuring these records are available when required for reports, elections and other votes.
  • Filing minutes and reports and maintenance of up to date contact details (i.e. names, addresses and telephone numbers) for the Board and ordinary members and stakeholders of the organisation.