Oh no! Not another committee! Oh no! Not another committee meeting! Gr-r-r-r-r! Committees have gotten bad raps over the years in non-profit organizations. Rightfully so in many circumstances. There are often too many committees. They are frequently poorly and under-utilized. Committees don’t know what their functions are. Committees should bring power and vigor to your organization and your board. They should be an asset, not a liability. Committee participation should be energizing and not drudgery.

Often Boards as a whole usurp committees’ roles and do all their work, often making the very existence of committees unnecessary. If you are on a non-profit board and your meetings last 4 hours or more, your board is probably doing the work that committees should be doing.

Boards with whom I have met have often heard me say: “Very rarely should there be any items on a board meeting agenda where the board is starting from scratch on that matter. Instead, your individual committees, whether they be standing (mandated by the by-laws) or ad hoc (project-oriented, with an end to them) should do the up-front work and bring their findings and recommendations to the full Board.” The Board then discusses and possibly refines the committees’ work. This is then followed by an acceptance of their recommendations or by a request that the committee do some more work on their assignment.

In implementing such a process, the mission of each committee must be clear and the scope of the immediate task before the committee must be made plain. Take some time to give some thought to your Board’s committee structure right now, regardless of your role on the board. If necessary, nudge someone at the top with a suggestion as to how your committees can be more effective. Be energized! Be eager to go to a committee meeting!

If you would like to have an outside objective eye take a look at how your Board committees work and are structured, please get in touch with me.

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