Typical Types of Board Committees

Sections of this topic

    Typical Types
    of Board Committees

    © Copyright Carter
    McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC
    . Also see Carter’s
    Board Blog (for for-profits and nonprofits).

    Vast majority of content
    in this topic applies to for-profits and nonprofits. This book also covers this topic.


    Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board - Book Cover

    Sections of This Topic Include

    About
    Committees

    Developing Committees
    Potential Standing
    Committees and Their Roles

    Potential Ad Hoc
    Committees

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    The following descriptions are
    intended to portray various functions that are often conducted
    by board committees. Note that the following list is not intended
    to suggest that all of these committees exist within one organization;
    it’s ultimately up to the organization to determine which committees
    should exist and what they should do for that organization. Committees
    and their assignments are often specified in the ByLaws. Some
    of the following information has been adapted from materials by
    BoardSource, but applies to for-profit and nonprofit boards unless
    otherwise noted.

    About
    Committees

    1. Establish committees when it’s apparent that issues are too
    complex and/or numerous to be handled by the entire board.
    2. For ongoing, major activities establish standing committees;
    for short-term activities, establish ad hoc committees that cease
    when the activities are completed. Standing committees should
    be included in the by-laws.
    3. Committees recommend policy for approval by the entire board.
    4. Committees make full use of board members’ expertise, time
    and commitment, and ensure diversity of opinions on the board.
    5. They do not supplant responsibility of each board member; they
    operate at the board level and not the staff level.
    6. Committees may meet monthly (this is typical to new organizations,
    with working boards), every two months, or every three months;
    if meetings are not held monthly, attempt to have committees meet
    during the months between full board meetings.
    7. Minutes should be recorded for all board meetings and for Executive
    Committee meetings if the ByLaws indicate the Executive Committee
    can make decisions in place of the board when needed.

    Developing
    Committees

    1. Ensure the committee has a specific charge or set of tasks
    to address, and ensure board members understand the committee’s
    charge
    2. Have at least two board members on each committee, preferably
    three
    3. Don’t have a member on more than two committees
    4. In each board meeting, have each committee chair report the
    committee’s work since the past board meeting
    5. Consider having non-board volunteers as members of the committee
    (mostly common to nonprofits)
    6. Consider having a relevant staff member as a member of the
    committee as well
    7. Committee chairs are often appointed by the board chair; consider
    asking committees members for a volunteer for committee chair
    8. If committee work is regularly effective and the executive
    committee has a strong relationship with the chief executive,
    consider having board meetings every other month and committee
    meetings between the board meeting
    9. The chief executive should service ex officio to the
    board and any relevant committees (some organizations might consider
    placing the chief executive as a member of the board — this decision
    should be made very carefully)

    Potential Standing
    Committees

    The following descriptions
    are intended to portray various functions often conducted by standing
    board committees, i.e., committees that exist year round. Note
    that the following list is not intended to suggest that all of
    these committees should exist; it’s ultimately up to the organization
    to determine which committees should exist and what they should
    do.

    Potential Standing Committees

    Their Typical Roles

    Board Development Ensure effective board processes, structures
    and roles, including retreat planning, committee development,
    and board evaluation; sometimes includes role of nominating committee,
    such as keeping list of potential board members, orientation
    and training
    Evaluation Ensures sound evaluation of products/services/programs,
    including, e.g., outcomes, goals, data, analysis and resulting
    adjustments
    Executive Oversee operations of the board; often
    acts on behalf of the board during on-demand activities that
    occur between meetings, and these acts are later presented for
    full board review; comprised of board chair, other officers and/or
    committee chairs (or sometimes just the officers, although this
    might be too small); often performs evaluation of chief executive
    Finance Oversees development of the budget;
    ensures accurate tracking/monitoring/accountability for funds;
    ensures adequate financial controls; often led by the board treasurer;
    reviews major grants and associated terms
    Fundraising Oversees development and implementation
    of the Fundraising Plan; identifies and solicits funds from external
    sources of support, working with the Development Officer if available;
    sometimes called Development Committee
    Marketing Oversees development and implementation
    of the Marketing Plan, including identifying potential markets,
    their needs, how to meet those needs with products/services/programs,
    and how to promote/sell the programs
    Personnel Guides development, review and authorization
    of personnel policies and procedures; sometimes leads evaluation
    of the chief Executive; sometimes assists chief executive with
    leadership and management matters
    Product / Program Development Guides development of service delivery
    mechanisms; may include evaluation of the services; link between
    the board and the staff on program’s activities
    Promotions and Sales Promotes organization’s services to
    the community, including generating fees for those services
    Public Relations Represents the organization to the community;
    enhances the organization’s image, including communications with
    the press

    Potential
    Ad Hoc Committees

    The following descriptions
    are intended to portray various functions often conducted by ad
    hoc board committees, i.e., committees that exist to accomplish
    a goal and then cease to exist. Note that the following list is
    not intended to suggest that all of these committees should exist;
    it’s ultimately up to the organization to determine which committees
    should exist and what they should do.

    Audit Plans and supports audit of a major
    functions, e.g., finances, programs or organization
    Campaign (nonprofit) Plans and coordinates major fundraising
    event; sometimes a subcommittee of the Fundraising Committee
    Ethics Develops and applies guidelines for
    ensuring ethical behavior and resolving ethical conflicts
    Events (or Programs) Plans and coordinates major events,
    such as fundraising (nonprofits), team-building or planning;
    sometimes a subcommittee of the Fundraising Committee
    Nominations Identifies needed board member skills,
    suggests potential members and orients new members; sometimes
    a subcommittee of the Board Development Committee
    Research Conducts specific research and/or data
    gathering to make decisions about a current major function in
    the organization

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