Associations trust their management to committees. However, sometimes committees forget to step back every now and again and check whether or not they are meeting their needs. So, let's take our time to think about it.

What is a committee?

A committee is a group of people who take on the responsibility of managing a community group, voluntary organisation, charity, trust or social enterprise. They may have a range of different legal structures and can be described in different ways.

How do committees work?

Committees are normally made up of between three and twelve people, and should meet regularly to make decisions about the direction of the organisation or group.

The committee is responsible for making sure that the organisation sticks to its aims and objectives as detailed in the Constitution. As committees have overall responsibility for the management of an organisation's affairs, committee members can face personal liability should things go wrong. That is why it is important to meet regularly and make sure that the correct information comes to meetings so that committee members can make informed decisions.

Being on a committee involves:

  • Having a shared sense of purpose (following aims & objectives)
  • Providing direction and leadership
  • Taking collective responsibility
  • Dealing with compliance issues (e.g. Registered Charities must follow Charity Law requirements)
  • Being accountable to stakeholders (e.g. members, funders, service users, the wider community)

What makes a good committee?

Many of us know of examples of committees that don't work. These are committees where meetings drag on and no actions are agreed, committee members do not take part in discussion or are discouraged from doing so, personal differences make it difficult to focus on the business at hand and so on. To work well, committees rely on the following:

  • Members who understand their responsibilities and role
  • Having the right mixture of skills, abilities and experience around the table
  • Commitment to the role and the aims and objectives of the organisation or group
  • Having a sense of purpose which translates into leadership

Source: http://www.cvsfife.org/publications/committees.htm