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Q: What is the role of the Secretary in regards to the minutes of my Non-For-Profit organizations meetings?

A: The Secretary is responsible for taking the minutes. The Secretary's responsibilities lie in three areas:

  • What must be done before the meeting;
  • during the meeting;
  • and following the meeting.

Before the meeting, the Secretary must:

  • Determine the method by which the minutes will be recorded. Written form remains the most common method. However, technology-reliant methods, such as the use of recording devices, are increasing in usage.

During the meeting, all members must be seen and heard by the Secretary in order to keep accurate records. The Secretary is responsible for:

  • recording attendance.
  • numbering agenda items. The minutes will identify the item number and the agenda should then be attached to the minutes and the two should be filed together.
  • recording as much detail as possible. The amount of detail required to ensure due diligence is determined by the board.
  • recording the names of the person who moved and seconded motions as determined by the organization's policy.
  • recording votes and lists of votes. This reduces member liability.
  • clearly stating and describing all motions and decisions. The Secretary should also record if the decisions were unanimous.
  • possibly maintaining a motion sheet, if motions were particularly lengthy in nature.

After the meeting, the Secretary should:

  • prepare a final draft of the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting.
  • ensure that the draft is reviewed for accuracy by the Chairperson.
  • distribute the final version within one week after the meeting.
  • remind members of their commitments.

At subsequent meetings, the Secretary will also present the minutes for approval. Corrections can be made, but the content must not be debated. A motion to accept the minutes must receive a majority vote. The Secretary should add a statement at this point to the current meeting that the minutes of the past meeting were approved or approved as corrected. 

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