As your AGM is the most important date in your organisation’s calendar, it is important the AGM voting process runs smoothly, and members are fully engaged.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is an important event for every organisation. It gives its members, the committee, and other stakeholders an overview of the organisation’s current direction and financial health, confirming its purpose. It offers a chance for members to make decisions about who is best qualified to make decisions on behalf of the organisation, through the official engagement of members into key elected positions via AGM voting. AGM Voting – Member Engagement: The AGM presents an excellent opportunity for organisations to engage with members and with so many channels of communication available, letting members know about the AGM and AGM voting opportunities, has never been simpler. Once the date and venue details are confirmed, and candidates for election and resolutions established, the AGM voting details can be communicated in full. However, messaging regarding the AGM and its importance can be communicated much earlier, particularly to raise awareness and build interest so that members want to participate or appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. Communication can be delivered to members via newsletters (print or electronic), websites, emails and mailers. Social media is a great way to let your audience know about the event and how to complete any AGM voting requirements. Another way to engage members to get involved with making decisions about the organisation, via AGM voting, is to inject a social element. By creating dedicated areas (i.e. in a branch, store, site or office building), dedicated to your AGM you can bring the message to the community, encouraging individuals to engage in ice-breakers or activities. If candidates are standing in an election why not make them more accessible to members by developing videos of their statements. These can be incorporated into your e-voting site or uploaded to a video channel and/or your website. Finally, it’s great to have a central place where members can get access to all they need regarding AGM voting, candidates, timescales and other AGM-related material. This can be an organisation’s website or a dedicated website, such as an ‘election hub’ which is hosted by your scrutineer as part of its overall election service. AGM Voting – Remote Participation: To make AGM voting accessible to all members, voting packs (paper, electronic or both) can be issued before the AGM. This allows members who do not want to or simply cannot attend to participate in the AGM voting for candidates and/or resolutions. These members can appoint a proxy. AGM voting by proxy can be offered to members in the traditional way, by distributing voting papers in the postal AGM pack. A more cost-effective alternative is to allow proxy voting online, which is a can be a more convenient way for owners to cast their vote. Appointing an independent scrutineer to run your online AGM voting has many benefits, including the provision of a secure e-voting system, which will have proxy appointment feature built in. AGM Voting – Postal Voting Packs: Despite the popularity of e-voting, paper ballot packs are still a very popular AGM voting vehicle. To encourage votes are returned, it is important that the design, layout, instructions and response mechanism work together to make a user-friendly ballot pack that can be easily completed and returned. When it comes to design, the use of colour, a clear font, boxes, illustrations, and diagrams can all help to guide the voter through the process. Wording and voting instructions are equally important so that the voter always understands, for what and who they are voting. Experienced independent scrutineers often have their own in-house designers and form setters, specifically for this purpose and will be able to offer guidance on how best to design your ballot pack. Once the AGM voting pack has been designed for maximum response, the pack can be mailed to members. To save costs on postage the voting response and candidate information is a part of a wider AGM information pack. As a costly vehicle, an AGM pack must work as hard as possible. Working with an experienced printer can offer many benefits in terms of design, data security, print costs and mailing rates, as they mail millions of pieces of election stationery each year. AGM Voting – At the Meeting: When your members get to the AGM you may require external help, in the form of an independent scrutineer, to register members and provide voting slips to members who haven’t voted in any pre-AGM voting process. An independent scrutineer will have a marked-register of all votes cast and so can easily tell who has or hasn’t voted. Depending on the size of your AGM and how many members you’re expecting, hand-held digital voting devices can be used to aid AGM voting. Many larger organisations use handheld voting devices to encourage more votes at the AGM, as voting via these devices is quick and easy to do and offers an immediate response with accurate counts. By using hand-held voting devices members and proxies attending the AGM in person can vote interactively and quickly, without the fuss of a paper ballot. Voters simply select the button which reflects their preference or preferences. Using an audience response system makes it easier for the voters to participate. If you would speak to UK Engage about your next AGM and Board of Directors Election, please contact us today.