Yes, AGMs can be held online
Many Scout Groups normally hold their Annual General Meeting in June and July, but this year the Covid-19 restrictions mean that face-to-face gatherings are out of the question.
Unlike some other charities which make specific provision for AGMs by digital means, there is no mention of this in POR and this seems to have caused some confusion.
To clear this up, if your Group Executive decides they should hold the AGM digitally (in an online meeting) – and where it’s possible, we think this is a good idea – then this decision should be recorded to demonstrate good governance.
Note: The courts have ruled that a meeting where people can see and hear each other counts as a meeting for legal purposes, which would include videoconferencing.
Please remember too, to invite the District Team to your AGM. We’re very keen to support you.
The Scouts recommend that Groups should follow the advice from the Charity Commission which is summarised below.
15/05/20 The Charity Commission have provided the following information in relation to holding an AGM during this crisis.
Coronavirus is having a major impact on charity events and the government’s health advice may lead to some charities having no choice but to decide to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings. The charity as far as possible should be acting in accordance with the governing document. However, the Commission understands that the charity may not be able to fully comply with the governing document during this current crisis.
- If the trustees, decide it is necessary to hold the AGM by electronic means, they should record this decision to demonstrate good governance of your charity.
- The trustees must assess the risk in postponing the AGM or holding a meeting by another means. They should communicate the decision with the members where practical to do so e.g. via telephone or post or email.
- As a regulator of charities, the Charity Commission will not be taking regulatory action, if the charity has demonstrated the reason for holding a meeting outside of the governing document or postponing the AGM during a pandemic is in the best interest of the charity.
- If decisions are made by a meeting held which are not in accordance with the governing document, the Charity Commission advises the trustees clearly record the decision.
- The Trustees may also wish to think about whether there are any wider or longer impacts of their decision that may need to be considered (independent of the regulator) for any actions during this time.
Please remember it is the responsibility of the individual Charity Trustees to decide what is the best course of action to take for their Charity.
The Government also has some practical advice for Executive Committees. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has also published some useful guidance to help Executive Committees consider how they can best support members locally during this time. These both cover issues such as AGMs, remote meetings and other matters. You can read this guidance here.
Annual Report submission
Wherever possible, the Charity Commission asks all Charities to try to get their annual reports submitted on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date may request a filing extension by emailing them at: email@example.com. Delaying the AGM does not stop the submission of the Annual report, which is approved by the Trustees and only adopted at the annual general meeting.
The Scouts have published other advice and guidance about Scouting during the Coronavirus pandemic here.