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Increase your nonprofit board committee effectiveness

The work of the board gets done in committees. Today the trend is to have fewer standing committees and to create committees as needed. Each committee should have an end in sight with specific tasks outlined in a timetable to reach that end.

To ensure that your board committees are working effectively, keep the following recommendations in mind:

Do include these items in your board committee development

  • Include outside people from the community on your board committees.
  • Make committee appointments carefully, even though members are not voting board members. Committee members act as representatives of the organization and should be committed to its mission.
  • Distribute committee assignments evenly across the board so that every board member has the opportunity to be involved in committee work. Get approval from the full board before making important decisions.
  • Write committee reports that provide enough information for the board without including insignificant details.
  • Provide more information to the board when requested, after a report has been submitted.

Avoid these board committee pitfalls

  • Create board committees that duplicate the staff's work.
  • Create committees that are too large to be effective.
  • Have a rule — or give an impression — that committee membership for non-board members will automatically lead to board membership.
  • Treat non-board members on committees as outsiders.
  • Hold committee meetings right before board meetings. Committees and task forces need time to prepare and submit their reports to the full board. Board members need time to read through the material. Otherwise the board may just rehash what went on in the committee meetings.

For more from Adelphi University, visit the Center for Nonprofit Leadership.

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MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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Center for Nonprofit Leadership