Welcome back to the Basic Board Document Scavenger Hunt. Today, we are delving into the roles and responsibilities of board committees through documents called Committee Charters.
A committee charter is a document that lays out the name of the committee, its purpose, responsibilities and membership. They are a perfect reference for board members, committee members and potential members. Committee Charters are also a wonderful item to include in your board recruitment packets along with the job descriptions we discussed in an earlier post. Let’s face it, we all would prefer to know as much about an organization, it’s expectation of our time, and the roles and duties we will need to fulfill as early in the process as possible.
All Committee Charters should have a few basic elements (listed below) but no one template will work because each of our organizations are completely unique. Your marketing committee charter will look different than mine because your organization’s needs are different.
Key elements of a Committee Charter:
Type of Committee – is it a standing committee or ad hoc?
Chair of Committee – does the chairperson need to be a member of the board or can it be a volunteer?
I recommend that committee chairs be board members. The reason is simple: board members are better informed of the overall actions taken by the organization than a volunteer. No matter how well meaning a volunteer may be as committee chair, they are not privy to, nor involved in, the decision making process for the organization.
Committee Membership – is the committee only open to board members or can you invite volunteers and community members to sit on the committee?
Committees are a perfect opportunity to build relationships with community volunteers and create a knowledgeable pool of candidates for board membership. Most committees should be open to outside members but some, like the governance committee or finance committee, should be board member only endeavors.
Statement of Purpose – what will the committee be doing and why?
This is the committee’s mission statement and reflects the purpose and outcomes expected of the committee itself.
Responsibilities – what exactly is the committee responsible for and what are the actions expected to be taken by the committee?
It is important to clearly outline what the committee is meant to do including scope of work, annual responsibilities (such as an event or budgeting process), and overall expectations of the committee.
Authority – what can the committee do without board approval? What requires approval by the board?
This section clearly lays out when a committee must seek board approval and when they do not. For example, a marketing committee can be allotted a marketing budget at the beginning of the year and tasked with spending the money in accordance with their marketing plan. On the other hand, a committee may need to see board approval for expenditures over $500 or when a volunteer survey is being sent out to the general public.
Meetings – when will the committee meet?
It is important that committees meet on a regular basis in order to keep on-top of their stated goals and actions for the year. Certain committees will need to meet on a monthly basis – executive committee, marketing committee – while others can meet less often – events committee, nominating committee. Regardless of how often the committee meets, when the meetings are expected should be stated in the charter.
One last word about Committee Charters…
Each committee charter should have a note stating when the charter was approved by the board of directors and/or when it was last updated. This helps to keep everyone on the same page moving forward within the committee structure.
We have a webinar coming up on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 from 1 to 2 p.m. EST reviewing this and other important board documents. Learn more here.
Would you like more information on our board training services? Please feel free to contact urbanASKEW here.
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