Annual General Meetings
This guide outlines the general tasks for your Grad Group to complete before, during, and after an AGM. Different people will undertake different tasks, including your President, Secretary and Returning Officer. You should decide within your committee who is the appropriate person for each task. This guide is designed to help you conduct a best-practice AGM. You may find that not every step is appropriate to your Grad Group and there may be tasks not noted that are relevant to your Grad Group that you also wish to undertake (we’d recommend noting any additional tasks in your handover documents).
You might also find these useful:
One big task you will generally undertake at your AGM is your election. You can read further election guidance here.
If you have any other questions about running your AGM, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or book in to meet with us at calendly.com/gsagradgroups.
What is an AGM?
An Annual General Meeting (usually referred to as an ‘AGM’) is a meeting that takes place, as the name suggests, annually. It is traditionally a meeting for your whole Grad Group to meet – the committee, members and any stakeholders – to discuss your Group’s activities of the past year and make plans for the future. An AGM is a key tool for your Grad Group’s transparency, communication and sustainability.
It’s an important meeting to keep your Grad Group on track and usually includes:
- updates from the outgoing Executive Committee;
- a breakdown of your Group’s finances;
- plans for the future;
- celebration of successes to-date;
- discussion of challenges to-date;
- the election of your new Executive Committee.
It’s also an opportunity to discuss or vote on any big motions that the whole membership might vote on.
Preparing for your AGM.
Firstly, review your constitution and committee roles.
Book in time to review your constitution and committee roles and assess if they are fit for purpose and up-to-date. There’s no point having a constitution that’s four years old and doesn’t reflect your Group’s requirements or operating procedures. The main question to ask is: do any clauses or roles need changing, removing or adding? You should open this review to all of your committee and you may choose to include or consult with your members.
You may choose to vote on these changes at the AGM or at a Special General Meeting or Executive Meeting prior to the AGM (depending on your rules for constitutional change). For example, you may wish to vote on new roles ahead of the AGM, so members can prepare themselves to run for election at the AGM.
The rules for constitutional changes should be outlined in your constitution. The GSA Model Constitution, for example, requires ‘a simple majority of members present voting at a Special General Meeting, Annual General Meeting, or by Special Resolution’ and that ‘constitutional motions must be presented in writing to the committee at least ten academic days before the meeting’.
Confirm your requirements.
You will need to confirm the following ahead of your AGM:
- How many days’ notice is required to hold your AGM?
- What is the number of people required to attend for the meeting to take place (your ‘quorum’)?
- What rules are in place for your elections (see Elections Guidance for more information)?
- What majority is required for motions and constitutional changes?
These requirements are generally outlined in your Group’s constitution, so check there first. If not, your Committee should agree this in a meeting prior to your AGM. You may also have other rules and requirements in place to adhere to – check your constitution and any handover documents.
You might also want to consider if your AGM should be part of a bigger event. You could hold it before a Group Social, or after a workshop on a topic relevant to your Group, or you could include entertainment, awards or a demonstration as part of the event. Your AGM is an important part of your Grad Group’s calendar, so feel free to enjoy it!
Get it organised.
There are several tasks to undertake to organise the AGM, so it’s worth going through and assigning different people to help organise the meeting. Things to consider:
Book a venue.
- Research and book an appropriate venue. Take into consideration accessibility, space requirements (how many people are you expecting), budget, technology & equipment (for example, do you need a screen? Will anyone make presentations?) and the best time and day for your meeting. GSA has some great spaces for AGMs in the 1888 Building. You can contact us at email@example.com or use the Pre-event Registration Form to request a booking.
- It’s recommended to book in some set up time – ie don’t start the AGM at the exact time you have the room booked from.
- Once you know your time, date and location, register the AGM with GSA, using the Pre-event Registration Form on the GSA Grad Group Portal.
Organise your sundry activities
- Organise any catering, entertainment or sessions you wish to include around the AGM event.
Get your house in order.
- Allocate and confirm tasks for the AGM. For example, who will: chair the meeting, take minutes, record attendance, run elections?
- Prepare your documentation. Outline a proposed agenda for the AGM and set a deadline for any additional motions or topics to be submitted. If possible, distribute the Agenda ahead of time. Decide how you will take minutes. Check out GSA’s AGM Agenda & Minutes Template for inspiration.
- Prepare a form for tracking attendance, or download GSA’s Attendance Template, as you’ll need to record who is present.
- Check your bank’s requirements regarding transfer of signatories to the group’s bank account — you may need to arrange paperwork to bring to the meeting to transfer the signatories.
- Prepare any reports that will be delivered at the AGM (for example, President’s Report, Treasurer’s Report).
Tell people about it.
Send out official notice of the AGM to all relevant Grad Group members and stakeholders. This could be via email, text, WhatsApp Group, Facebook Event or through whichever means your Group usually communicates.The notice should include:
- date, time, and location of the AGM;
- the agenda (if possible);
- any relevant information on who can attend and vote at the AGM;
- information on any proposed constitutional changes, including the exact wording to be changed/added and specifying clauses to be changed or removed, and any motions to be voted on;
- information on any elections, including position descriptions and how to nominate (see Elections guidance);
- information on proxy voting (including proxy voting form), if relevant; and
- any relevant information attendees may require based on your plans or requirements for the AGM.
- If you are interested in recruiting more members, you may undertake more publicity such as posters around campus or working with Faculty members to promote the event.
Running your AGM.
Get set up.
Arrive early, get settled and prepare the venue. Ensure you have enough time in your venue booking to prep the room before the AGM starts. Think about where people will sit (do you need to put out chairs), set up catering if you have it and put out any documentation to share. If you are using technology, it’s good to set it up first in case there’s any issues.
Who does what?
The current President generally chairs the meetings. If the President is absent, it should be chaired by another nominated Executive, such as the Vice President or Secretary. If this isn’t possible, the Grad Group can nominate someone else to do chair the meeting. The current Secretary generally takes minutes and organiser attendance being collected. If your Group is large or your Secretary is unavailable, the Grad Group can nominate someone else to do so.
What to document.
Agenda. Ensure attendees can see the agenda so that know what is being covered in the meeting. You could, for example, project it on a screen, print out copies, or distribute them digitally for members to follow on their phones, tablets and laptops.
Attendance. Have attendees fill in the attendance form. You could also use this as a chance to sign them up as members.
Minutes. It’s up to you how you record minutes. Some Group’s choose to detail everything said, others just note decisions, votes and action points. This is your record of the event and so your minutes should provide a good overview of the AGM for people to refer back to. Though, at a minimum, your minutes should include:
- time, date and location of the meeting;
- the agenda; and
- any resolutions passed at the meeting.
Reports. Depending on how the annual reports (such as President’s and Treasurer’s – see below) are delivered, you may need to distribute these to be read. Again, you could print, project or digitally distribute them.
Deciding who should give reports is really up to your Group and might be based on size, activity or purpose. Check your Constitution to see if this it outlined at all. As standard the President and Treasurer will present a report, but you may decide that other roles should do so too. Reports can be aural, written or presented – for example, you could do a video or a PowerPoint.
You may choose to have a motion (a vote) to approve and accept the Report’s after they have been given. This is often a standard for larger or more formal groups, but you may choose to skip this if you don’t feel it is necessary and isn’t required in your Constitution.
The President’s Report is a chance to review the year, including major activity, achievements and challenges of the year. Think about any highlights, points of note, gratitude to individuals and organisations, you’d like to include. You can also include any advice and hopes for the future and thank sponsors, funders and supporters.
The Treasurer’s Report details full financial records of the past year. What this includes will depend on the size and activity of our Group but could include general details about finances, any surplus/deficit, the budget and actual spend, any large expenditures or income, funding, costs and details of various projects, financial standing, a breakdown of all budget lines with income and expenditure, a balance sheet, or projections. You may also detail financial plans for the upcoming year or future.
Democracy and the committee election are key parts of the AGM. See our Elections How To for more information on how to run your election.
After the AGM.
Enjoy yourself! It’s good to include some kind of celebration after the AGM, to say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new committee. However, there are still some administrative tasks to be undertaken.
Ensure all documentation for the AGM is complete, including attendance lists, minutes, reports and the names and details of any new Executive members. Save these in a place that the Grad Group will have access to and can find in the future (We would advise somewhere cloud-based, such as a Google Drive, Drop Box or MS Teams).
Tell people about it!
Send out an update welcoming the new Committee and thanking the outgoing Committee. You may also choose to distribute the minutes.
Tell GSA about it!
Submit your AGM Report to GSA within two weeks of your AGM. This report is normally completed by the incoming President, Secretary or equivalent. To complete the form, you will need a copy of your AGM Minutes, new Committee List, details of your outgoing committee and any other relevant documentation (such as AGM PowerPoint, Reports, or governance documents that has changed as part of your AGM).