Motions in Meeting Minutes

When doing meeting minutes training for non-profits, I get asked about how to spot a motion to put in notes and how to put it in the draft of minutes. 

How to note a motion during the meeting?  A correctly stated motion starts with “I move,” “we move,” or “the committee moves.”  Occasionally, you might hear it put as “... would like to make a motion to…” which according to parliamentary rules is incorrect - but it does get the idea across.  This beginning of a motion may be put into the secretary’s or recorder’s notes, however it is not put into the official minutes unless it is seconded, discussed, revised, then voted on and approved/carried.  Per parliamentary rules, negative decisions (motions not passed) are not recorded in minutes.  However those decisions may be in handwritten notes and then later marked through so they do not accidentally in the minutes.

When to publish a motion in meeting minutes?   Per parliamentary rules, only positive decisions carried by majority (or unanimous) vote are put into minutes.  Why? Because a failed or incomplete motion may be brought up again at another meeting once it has been researched and revised, at which time it may get passed.

When to use names in published motions?  Although you may state the name of person who first brought the motion to the attention of the voting body - if you wish it on-the-record, it is not necessary to mention who seconded or suggested amendments (revisions/changes) during discussions. Why?  According to parliamentary procedures, a motion should not be debated or discussed unless seconded.  Once seconded, it can be discussed and revised followed by a call to vote.  Once a motion begins discussion, it belongs to the entire body and therefore no additional names in the process are relevant.  In other words, the motion process is typically: Move, 2nd, Debate/Revise, and Vote.  Although I have seen groups who prefer to do it more like a team as they feel it goes faster to: Move, Brainstorm/Discuss, 2nd, and Vote.

How to write a motion in the meeting minutes?   A complete motion will be a statement that answers all the appropriate the 5W’s (who, what, where, when, and why).  Below is an example motion for minutes and how it may be amended in future meetings.  The text in [brackets] is optional.

MOTION [by Susan?]: The Rewards and  Recognition Committee  resolves to hold the Annual Awards Ceremony at a location (facility TBD)  that can hold 500 people for a maximum facility cost of $2,000 in Autumn (date TBD) using a program similar to last year in order to thank high achievement participation during current fiscal year. Motion carried [unanimously OR by majority vote #’s?].

1.   If this motion is in the committee minutes and their name appears at the top of minutes, it is not necessary to repeat their name within the motion. 
2.   TBD (T-B-D, to be determined) within the minutes indicates an amendment will be made later when more data is finalized.  Although committee and sub-team minutes may contain TBDs, board or officer minutes should never have a TBD as they tend to make final decisions. 
*From example above, simplify the amendment process in the following meeting where the committee will select a location from 2-3 places that meet their criteria.

MOTION to Amend: Committee resolves to hold the Annual Awards Ceremony at New York Regency Hotel - Royalty Ballroom in autumn (date TBD) using a program similar to last year to thank high-achievement participants during current fiscal year. Motion carried.

*From example above, the committee gets 3 possible dates from the hotel and then rewrites the decision below in another meeting to show the date that best fits their calendar.

MOTION to Amend: Resolves to hold the Annual Awards Ceremony at New York Regency Hotel - Royalty Ballroom on October 15 using a program similar to last year to thank high-achievement participants during current fiscal year. Motion carried.

The “MOTION to Append” example above are the easiest way to amend past motions because each subsequent meeting is a new decision based on one made in a previous meeting using “to append” clearly indicates this path, Using TBD to indicate future changes is also much clearer and easier than having to go back to first occurrence of the decision, amend the minutes and re-approve minutes.   If choosing to follow the parliamentary process to amend a previous decision in old minutes, the committee would have to use the following markings which could make the minutes harder to read and understand: Additions/Insertions must be in Italics, and Deletions/Removals should be indicated with [Brackets]

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