What is the driver behind forming a committee?
The structure of the Board of directors is a key issue for good everyday governance. This involves the establishment of committees for managing the work load especially for large Boards. An important part of the decision making process and of the Boards work is done through these committees. Often committees are formed when the issues treated by the Board are too numerous or require special skills such as supervision on financial statements or compensation plans.
A Board committee can deal with a specific matter or general issues and make recommendations to the Board for diligent decision making. Active committees meet regularly and make better Boards. Reporting necessary information and recommendations to the Board allows the Board to spend more time on strategic discussions.
Similar to the above point, if all Board members are engaged in focused committees, then the entire Board usually has strong understanding of the status of the most important management functions (for example, programs, marketing and facilities), which can be an advantage if the Chief Executive or another key staff member suddenly leaves and the functions need quick attention.
Committees can increase the likelihood of Board members’ understanding of the non-profits various management functions, thereby increasing the Board’s effectiveness in governing these functions.
Board meetings can be held less frequently if committees are productive between Board meetings. For example, Board meetings could be held every other month with committee meetings in between those months.
Committees can lower the likelihood of burnout among staff if the committees result in Board members assisting with activities that staff otherwise would undertake.
The key here is there needs to be a high degree of trust between the committee and board; the board needs to NOT micro manage, and selects committee members and chairs to ensure this happens.
Committee effectiveness relies on following some tried and true best practices.
- Written committee description – Terms of Reference
- Effective committee chair
- Members thoughtfully appointed
- Accountability to the board
- Well run meetings
- Action plans
- Reporting continuity
- Budgets where applicable
- Refrain from doing committee work during board meetings
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