23@4 Series: Board Committees and Advisory Board

Board Committees and Advisory Board

Anyone that has been on a committee has seen it…the bored looks, the yelling, the headaches, and the eye rolling.  To help with these common board committee issues, this session of 23@4 went over:

  • Committee Structure
  • Value & Threat of Committees
  • Steps to Creating a Committee
  • Advisory Boards

23@4 board committees

Key Points on “Committee Structure“:

  • The most effective nonprofit organizations keep their board meetings for strategy and course correction.
  • The primary reason for forming a committee is efficiency. Multiple committees can focus simultaneously on their respective areas of work, with final decisions made by the full Board on the basis of the work done in a committee.
  • A standing committee is a long-term committee, usually designated in the organization’s by-laws, which carries out an ongoing responsibility of the Board such as financial oversight or fundraising.
  • Organizations once favored large boards with a number of standing committees plus an Executive Committee, now boards are smaller with fewer standing committees and task forces to address specific issues and/or concerns.
  • Standing committees deal with matters that involve a continuous flow of work– financial oversight, board development, etc.– members are appointed for a designated time.
  • Having an expert on the board with specific skills, such as marketing, may provide advice.
  • Task Forces:  are established for specific objective, are generally temporaryž, and drive boards toward real-time results..
  • The task force or committee could be comprised of volunteers (non-board members) and board representation.

Key Points on “Value & Threat of Committees“:

  • Value of Committees: focused work, more options explored/researched, members use their expertise, and it helps develop leadership skills.
  • Threat of Committees:  members are charged with staff functions, micromanaging occurs, focus is taken away from governance, and members are sometimes under used which leads to apathy.

Key Points on “Steps to Creating a Committee“:

  • Crucial steps for creating a committee:  a clear purpose, strong leadership, and a preset meeting schedule.
  • For committees, there should be:  a clear statement of purpose, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, defined (or restricted) authority, annual objectives, and an action plan.
  • All Board members need to recognize the importance of trusting committees, and each committee member must possess a fair amount of knowledge about the organization.
  • Make sure the committee provides the full Board with enough information along with their recommendations so that a Board can make informed decisions.
  • Be sure that the Board Chair keeps a handle on discussions at Board meetings, and when necessary, sends a matter back to a committee for further work rather than taking up the full Board’s time.
  • Governance Committees:  works on Board composition, Board cultivation, nomination, orientation, ongoing training, and Board assessment.
  • Finance and Audit Committees:  works on due diligence, ždevelops the budget, monitors finances, žestablishes internal controls, žand ensures filing of the 990.
  • Executive Committees:  has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the full Board, *For Boards under 13 members this is probably NOT needed.
  • Development Committees:  works with the Board Chair, includes the Development Director, and develops cultivation strategies.

Key Points on “Advisory Board“:

  • An Advisory Board does not have any legal, formal responsibilities. Rather, an Advisory Board is convened by the organization to give advice and support.

This 23@4 session has the PowerPoint attached, click on the picture to view.

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