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Consent Agendas: What They Are and How to Use Them

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. 

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 must be familiar, require no discussion, and involve no conflict. Boards can streamline consent agenda processes by approving a list of items 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.

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 number, correction of typographical errors, etc.)
  8. Revision of routine policies (updating dates, contact information, etc.)
  9. Action items discussed in detail previously that await a final vote

This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.

About the Author

Marie Palacios, Lead Consultant for Funding for Good, is an expert facilitator, certified by The Institute of Cultural Affairs in the USA, in evidence-based facilitation practices known as the ToP Method. She combines proven facilitation methods and her passion for community to facilitate dynamic and productive meetings. Marie enjoys facilitating community organizing, advocacy, consensus building, and action planning workshops for diverse organizations across the nation. Over the past two decades, Marie has worn every hat imaginable in the nonprofit world: volunteer, board member, program director, executive director, and development consultant. Her nonprofit specialties include strategic planning facilitation, program design, board development, grant writing, and messaging. Marie is bilingual and uses her Spanish skills to provide language access services for businesses and local government sectors, teach Spanish for Professional Courses, and coordinate missions in Latin America through her consulting company, MP Pro Consult. Marie is a native of Morganton, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and three children.

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