8 Tips for Making Nonprofit Board Committees More Effective
by: Mike Burns
Robert’s and Roberta’s Rules of Order, the universally adopted meeting management guides, both offer that committees of a board are structural vehicles for preparing a board for its fiduciary policy, planning and decision-making — effectively, doing the homework of the board. With this said, let us look at the real challenges of board committees:
Committees often put a scheduling and preparation strain on the committee chair and staff.
Committees often lack clear purpose and focus (even with bylaws or a board manual).
Committees frequently lack strong leadership (including finding someone willing to take the position).
Committees struggle with staff — in mostly small to medium nonprofits, having staff to be available for support; and in larger nonprofits, utilizing staff as managers rather than providing information.
Committees often have board members who have not read their reports or opt to rehash committee work, which results in committee members questioning their purpose.
So, what can a committee do to at least reduce the weight of these challenges and strengthen the benefits of the pluses? Here are some ideas: