Ideas to Generate Participation in Committees

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD

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In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Organizational Design. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog.

Library's Boards of Directors Blog
Library's Nonprofit Capacity Building Blog


To Increase Attendance and/or Participation in Committees

  • Ensure committee chairs understand and can convey the role of the committee to members, and that the chair and members have up-to-date job descriptions.
  • Ensure adequate orientation that describes the organization and its unique services, and how the committee contributes to this mission.
  • Remember that the organization and its committees deserve strong attendance and participation. Don't fall prey to the perspective that "we're lucky just get anyone." Set a standard for the best.
  • Have ground rules that support participation and attendance. Revisit the ground rules every other meeting and post them on the bottom of agendas.
  • Let go of "dead wood." It often help to decrease the number of committee members rather than increase them.
  • Consider using subcommittees to increase individual responsibilities and focus on goals.
  • Conduct yearly committee evaluations that includes a clear evaluation process and where each committee member evaluates the other members, and each member receives a written report about their strengths and how they can improve their contributions.
  • Attempt to provide individual assignments to the committee members.
  • Have at least one staff member participate in each committee to help with administrative support and providing information.
  • Monitor quorum requirements for the entire board (as set forth usually in ByLaws), or the minimum number of board members who must be present for the board to officially enact business. This quorum, when not met, will serve as a clear indicator, or signal, that the board is in trouble.
  • Develop a committee attendance policy that specifies the number of times a member can be absent in consecutive meetings and in total meetings per time period.
  • Generate minutes for each committee meeting to get closure on items and help members comprehend the progress made by the committee.
  • In committee meeting reports, include noting who is present and who is absent.
  • Consider having low-attendance members involved in some other form of service to the organization, e.g., a "friends of the organization," or something like that, who attends to special events rather than ongoing activities.
  • Have a "summit meeting" with committee members to discuss the low attendance problem, and use a round-table approach so each person must speak up with their opinions.
  • Rotate in new members every year.


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To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books

For-Profit ("Corporate") Boards of Directors

Nonprofit Boards of Directors



For-Profit ("Corporate") Boards of Directors

Leadership and Supervision in Business - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to recruit, utilize and evaluate the best employees for your business. Includes guidelines to effectively lead yourself (as Board member or employee), other individuals, groups and organizations. Includes guidelines to avoid burnout -- a very common problem among employees of small businesses. Many materials in this Library are adapted from this book.

NOTE: This is one of the few books that's all about leadership AND how to effectively work with a corporate (for-profit) Board.

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Nonprofit Boards of Directors

Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board - Book Cover Field Guide to Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to organize, operate and sustain high-quality nonprofit Boards -- and to fix a broken Board! Includes variety of Board models you can choose from, roles and responsibilities, how to get the best members, how to train and organize them, goals for standard committees, ensuring high-quality meetings, evaluating Boards, how to evaluate and/or replace the Executive Director, and much more! Includes many sample Board policies you can download! Written by the developer of the Free Management Library. Many materials in this Library's topic about Boards are adapted from this book. 30-day, money-back, guarantee!
Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff - Book Cover Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision With Nonprofit Staff
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to recruit, utilize and evaluate the best staff members for your nonprofit. Includes guidelines to effectively lead yourself (as Board member or staff member), other individuals, groups and organizations. Includes guidelines to avoid burnout -- a very common problem among nonprofit staff. Written by the developer of the Free Management Library. Many materials in this Library are adapted from this book.

This is one of the few books that's all about leadership AND how to effectively work with a nonprofit Board.
Consulting and Organization Development With Nonprofits - Book Cover Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development With Nonprofits
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides complete, step-by-step guidelines to identify complex issues in nonprofit organizations and successfully resolve each of them. This book is also helpful to organizations that are doing fine now, but want to evolve to the next level of performance. This is one of the truly comprehensive, yet practical, books about this complex subject! Includes online forms that can be downloaded. Written by the developer of the Free Management Library. Many materials in this Library's topic about guiding change are adapted from this comprehensive book. 30-day, money-back, guarantee!
Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation - Book Cover Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Step-by-step guidelines to customize and facilitate planners to implement the best strategic planning process to suit the particular nature and needs of their nonprofit. This is one of the few books, if any, that explains how to actually facilitate planning. Includes many online forms that can be downloaded and used by planners. Written by the developer of the Free Management Library. Many materials in this Library's topic about strategic planning are adapted from this book. 30-day, money-back, guarantee!

For Nonprofits, Also See

Strategic Planning -- Recommended Books

Social Entrepreneurship (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Capacity Building (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Fundraising -- Recommended Books

Program Management -- Recommended Books

Leading -- Recommended Books

Training and Development -- Recommended Books

Volunteers -- Recommended Books






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