Guidelines for Keeping Proper Minutes

A number of questions have arisen about the proper way to keep minutes of district and section meetings.

Minutes document an organization's proposals, reports and decisions, and are not only useful as a reference of past activities but are the legal record of the organization's activities.  As such, minutes are admissible in court as evidence of what occurred at a meeting, and is accepted as evidence of what happened even if there is oral testimony that they are inaccurate.  Minutes, therefore, must be carefully prepared, complete and accurate.

Perhaps the most common error in minute keeping is that the minutes are too wordy. While minutes must be complete, they must also be concise.  A useful guideline to remember while preparing minutes is that they record what was done at a meeting, and not what was discussed.

Minutes, which are kept in a minute book, should contain the following:

  • Date, place and time of meeting
  • Statement that proper notice of the meeting was given
  • Presence of a quorum
  • Names of the presiding official and others present
  • Reading, correction (if made), and approval of minutes of the previous meeting
  • Each report made, with a copy or reference to where one can be found, and any action taken on it
  • Each resolution and motion proposed, its disposition, and a record of the vote for and against it.  The exact wording of each motion and resolution should be given.
  • Adjournment
  • Secretary's signature

After the minutes have been prepared by the Secretary and approved by the Junior Fellow District Advisory Council, the Secretary should destroy any other notes he or she kept of the meeting.  If the meeting was tape recorded, the tape should be erased or destroyed. The keeping of extraneous unofficial documentation of meetings has been a major source of legal liability for organizations and should be avoided.


Christine Himes

Wanda Proctor
Project Coordinator

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