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Many associations are planning to hold their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the coming months, and due to health risks are now faced with the prospect of either postponing those meetings or holding them virtually.
Recently, many organizations have announced they will be holding their 2020 AGM in a virtual-only format. These include the Certified Management Consultants of Ontario (CMC Ontario) which will hold its first ever virtual-only AGM, and many large corporations including TELUS, Enbridge, Berkshire Hathaway and Starbucks to name a few.
Before proceeding with planning your virtual AGM you should first confirm if your bylaws, and the governing federal or provincial legislation (e.g. the CBCA, BC Societies Act, etc.), allows the AGM to be held electronically or requires that it be held in person. On March 30, 2020 the Government of Ontario published an Emergency Order that will:
- Allow all corporations under Ontario’s Corporations Act and Business Corporations Act to hold meetings of directors, shareholders, and members virtually
- Extend the timeframe by which corporations under the Corporations Act and Business Corporations Act must hold AGMs
You may wish to consult with your legal counsel to help you navigate through any bylaw or statutory issues.
Here are some tips to holding a smooth virtual AGM:
- Provide sufficient advance notice of the meeting including instructions on how to participate electronically
- Choose an appropriate technology platform, for example Zoom, and ensure it supports the expected number of attendees
- Have a technical support number available, for members who have questions about accessing the webcast or have technical difficulties
- Position your association’s banner behind the presenters, and ensure there are no other visual or audible distractions in the background
- Ensure all participants are automatically muted upon entry
- Remember to notify all members that the meeting will be recorded, and archive the meeting on a publicly available website for at least a year
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! For your AGM to run smoothly, it is essential to conduct multiple rehearsals using actual presentation materials, presenters and equipment and including as many test participants online as is practical
Virtual meetings offer many benefits over in-person meetings. Other than enabling organizations to comply with social distancing measures during the current pandemic, they also encourage wider participation, resulting in a broader representation of members. You can expect attendance at your virtual AGM to be significantly higher than at in person meetings. And last but not least, costs may be reduced by eliminating the requisite travel, accommodation, facility and equipment rentals typically associated with in-person meetings.
Find out more about how associations can operate effectively in a virtual environment, call me and we can have a conversation. We can also talk about improving operating efficiency, reducing risk and strengthening your organization. Reach me at 613-727-1230 ext. 212 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard MacNeill, FCPA, FCMA, CMC, Dipl. T. is a partner at OTUS Group, a team of advisors to business, government and not-for-profit organizations.
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