Quorum is a common but necessary term in corporate, academic, and organizational settings. But what does it mean? And why does it matter? Let’s take a look at the definition of quorum and what factors play into its determination.

What is a Quorum?

Quorum is the minimum number of members required to be present at a meeting in order to conduct business or vote on decisions. This can vary from organization to organization and usually depends on what is set out in the bylaws of your organization. Typically, quorum will be set at 50% voting members plus one for most organizations which represents a majority.

Why is Quorum Important?

When you are looking at quorums, it is important to think about the results that you want. Do you want your organization to be decentralized or centralized? Is there a possibility that some members of your group can be excluded if too many people are required for decisions? You also need to consider what happens when a quorum does not exist or, more importantly,  cannot be achieved. For example, if only a few people show up for an important meeting and no one else joins later on, should those initial members make decisions without having everyone’s input? The answer is likely “no”— and this is why it’s so important to have clear guidelines on how many votes are needed before any decisions can be made. But also be sure to establish a quorum that it is achievable and, therefore, likely not impede decision making and progress at meetings.

How to Determine Quorum

To determine a quorum, you must first know the requirements of the organization. The governing documents are generally the place to look. These may include Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding these documents, but ISTO and its Programs adhere to the  specific rules or regulations of the governing law of Delaware. Quorum can be defined as any percentage of membership that is typically above 50%.If a member(s)does not attend a meeting where business needs to be conducted, as long as quorum is achieved in attendance at that meeting, then the meeting and decision making can take place. For meetings where quorum is not achieved, it is the decision of the leadership at that meeting if they wish to continue the meeting, however, decisions and acts of business cannot be made at such a meeting. 

Tips to Achieve Quorum

  • Invite all members to the meeting.
  • Send reminders to members who have not responded.
  • Set a deadline for members to respond.
  • Use a voting system that encourages people to vote, such as majority rule or ranked preferential voting (where voters rank candidates in order of preference).
  • Hold the meeting in a place that is easy to get to and has the facilities you need for your meeting, including technology (for example, video conferencing equipment and microphones). 
  • Consider virtual voting or conferences to increase attendance.  

Why is Your Organization Not Reaching Quorum?

If you’re having trouble reaching quorum, the first thing to check is that your organization’s communication channels are clear. It’s easy for members to get lost in a sea of emails and phone calls, especially if they’re not sure what they’re supposed to be doing or why they need to do it. Be sure to use calendaring modules in communicating meetings. Consider how many people are involved in any given project or decision: if there are too many voices, it can become difficult for everyone involved to understand the decision at hand. If this happens repeatedly, it could become apparent that your organization has poor communication practices—achieving a quorum may seem impossible. Another possible reason for not reaching quorum is that some members don’t feel like their opinion matters. 

Regardless of the cause, repeated failed attempts to achieve quorum at meetings requires immediate action. At a minimum, meeting leadership should communicate to all invitees the importance of their attending and engaging in all meetings. If time commitments preclude members from attendance, designating alternates to the meeting may be a consideration. Lastly, you may want to reconsider your quorum determination. If quorum is too high or restrictive, say 75% of members of the Board or Committee, then it might be prudent to reduce quorum to 51%. . 


A quorum is the minimum number of members needed to make a decision, and it’s important for decision-making to represent the majority of an organization or achieving consensus in any group or organization. Usually, a quorum is determined by taking 50% of your voting members and adding one. When troubleshooting why members may not be attending meetings to achieve quorum, consider what you can do to better accommodate, prepare, or support them. Creative ideas to improve meeting engagement or attendance like hosting giveaways or offering refreshments normally help.

Quorum may not be one of the buzzwords you hear frequently, but it’s definitely something worth knowing about and understanding as it has a great impact on your organization’s decision-making. You’ll be able to apply this knowledge in your own work environment, corporation, academic group, or even life situations when you need to make decisions based on consensus or getting people involved. 

More About IEEE-ISTO

ISTO was established in January 1999 to meet the needs of global emerging technology alliances, industry consortia, trade associations, and other technology collectives. ISTO provides the infrastructure, support and expertise to support standards development efforts and market adoptions of emerging technologies. ISTO offers legal not-for-profit formation, technology association management, executive leadership, financial management, membership administration, web and digital marketing, and more. ISTO is a neutral, safe harbor for industry and government to build relationships, successfully  collaborate and fulfill your missions.  

Contact us today for more information on how we can help your organization achieve its goals: https://ieee-isto.org/about/contact/