With social distancing rules in place, it may not be feasible to hold your organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). Yet, as an incorporated organization, you’re required to have one that allows for ‘real-time’ discussion and confidential voting as required for certain issues.
So what can you do?
First, check your by-laws to see what your requirements are for holding AGMS. Next check your provincial COVID-19 information hubs to see if any emergency considerations have been put in place for your province. Some provinces are allowing more time to hold an AGM, others are allowing for organizations to hold virtual AGMs even if their bylaws say you can’t. Finally, explore what a virtual AGM might look like for your organization.
With many web-based platforms, online AGMs are increasingly becoming the norm. Virtual AGMs may consist of video-sharing, including screen-sharing (commonly referred to as a “webinar”), teleconferencing (where multiple people phone on to one phone-line), or both. Before you start looking at what platform/program to use, consider what you’ll need.
- Cost: Naturally, the more features and benefits you want, the more expensive it gets. Some companies are notorious for saying “up to 1,000 users” but really it’s only 10 and you need to pay through the nose to have 1,000. Read through the advertising ploys and make sure that the version you want comes with the features or benefits you need.
- Quorum: Your by-laws may stipulate how many members need to be in attendance in order to establish a quorum. Ensure you will have a quorum still if you move to a virtual AGM.
- Voting: Your by-laws may also stipulate how voting is done. Some votes may need to be confidential, while others may not. Ensure the platform you choose for your virtual AGM allows for confidential voting if it is required.
- Scrutineers: If you’re going to be voting at your AGM, you should have someone there to double check your voting results. Ensure your platform allows for multiple impartial people to observe the voting results.
- Numbers: Depending on how many members you have, you may need to pay more to hold your AGM. Make sure your platform will allow all of your members to attend, regardless of the final number that actually DO attend. It doesn’t make much sense to use a platform that caps out at 50 users when you may have 60 attendees.
- Timing: By going virtual, it may be that some of your members are in different time-zones. Not only that, but some platforms automatically use the time zone of the region the platform was created in (example: if the platform was made in California, it may automatically try and use Pacific Daylight Time). Make sure you use and promote the proper time!
- Technical Difficulties: As with anything technological, there may be some issues to work through. Ensure that you have functional internet, an up-to-date device (computer, tablet, iPad, etc.), and audio capabilities (either through a conference line or through the platform). Test your platform before the meeting with various different scenarios (computer vs tablet; conference line vs platform audio; using WiFi vs Ethernet connection, etc.)
Here are just a few platforms you could look into to hold your AGM virtually.
Regardless of which platform you choose, be sure to test it out with your participants before your actual meeting. Without fail, someone will have difficulty getting your platform to work; consider holding a “practice” meeting beforehand so all of your members can iron out the bugs before your actual AGM.