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Do it online – how Covid has enabled us to do AGMs differently

Blog post

Linda Barlow
Written by
Linda Barlow
8th June 2021
Online training

It's AGM season! A time of year where many co-ops find themselves in the midst of holding or planning to hold their AGM.

The AGM is the point in the year where members have an opportunity to come together to achieve the dual purpose of getting the operational business of the co-op approved by resolutions of the members and enabling those members to hold the Board to account for their actions.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic meant that co-op’s found themselves in a position of having to be creative as to how they could still be compliant and hold an AGM whilst at the same time operate within government guidelines on social distancing.  Whilst some co-op chose to postpone their AGMs to be held at a time where members could meet in person, many co-ops saw the opportunity to hold their AGM online.

Recently, Co-operatives UK invited panellists from 3 member co-ops, The Southern Co-op, The Carbon Co-op and New Internationalist, to share their experiences with others via a webinar.

Want to watch the webinar on holding online AGMs?

We delivered a webinar to address the likelihood that the majority of AGM's will take place either online or as a hybrid event in 2021. Accessible to members of Co-operatives UK.

Key points from the webinar

  1. Practice is key! Creating a running order for the AGM will help the key players understand the role they play and enable practice run throughs before the big day.
  2. Behind the scenes. Set up a team to deal with the technology so the people in front of the camera can get on with the job of running the meeting.
  3. Pre-preparation. Providing opportunities for members to exercise their democratic rights with regards to voting and holding the Board to account should be at the top of the “to do” list. How could pre-prepared questions help as a conversation starter? Could asking and answering questions beforehand help with timing? Making a commitment to answer all questions – even if these have to be followed up after the AGM will go a long way to hearing and responding to member needs.
  4. Be creative! Is there an opportunity to organise the AGM differently.  It is important the get the statutory business of the AGM completed but don’t forget that this is an opportunity to gain the views of the membership on new initiatives.  Whether you choose to do this at the same meeting or hold a standalone meeting later on in the year, can you make use of collaborative tech (eg) jamboards and virtual whiteboards to capture these insights in real time?
  5. How will you handle voting? This will largely depend on the tech used for your meeting but panellists cited chat functions in online software and Slido has enabled them to overcome this challenge.
  6. The rise of the hybrid meeting. Panellists all cited holding a virtual AGM has enabled them to reach a wider audience and in some cases enabled them to reach members not resident in the UK.  However, many also acknowledged the loss of natural conversations that happen when members are brought together in the same physical space. Could a hybrid AGM be one way of achieving both?

For more information on holding a virtual or hybrid AGM, visit the related links below.

For any advice needs contact the advice team.

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