Standing Committees

The by-laws identify the standing committees of the board and articulate their basic responsibilities. Membership on the committees is for the board to determine. At least one board member should be on every committee. Having only board members populate every committee is an option. In the beginning, it is normal for the committees to have only board members on them. In time though, as you begin looking for individuals whose skills may be beneficial to your organization, consider opening up committee memberships. You may either mandate in the by-laws exactly how the committees are to function, or you may leave that to the actual committee to determine. At a minimum, committees should establish regular meeting times and always record minutes of the discussion.

The unique nature of your organization and the type of service you are involved in will determine the standing committees of your board, but there are a few that every group will want to consider.

Finance or Budget Committee

After selecting the committee of the whole, which is a term for the entire board, establish the finance committee. Financial affairs are the sole purpose of this committee, which keeps these issues before the board and brings together the people best suited for the task. The finance committee should maintain oversight of fundraising activities and of all real and projected expenses. If these are not the people developing the working budget, they must have regular access to it.

Program Committee

The program committee is where the work of your organization is developed. It is where proposals from inside your organization or ones brought to you from the larger community can be analyzed for their suitability and appropriateness in relation to your stated mission. The program committee may also become a portal into your organization for community members wanting to take a larger role in the actual operations, making it an initial point of contact to your board.

From the very beginning, committees must remain in regular communication with one another, so everyone is aware of the activities of the whole board. This is critical when money is involved, requiring consultation with the finance committee, or at a minimum its chairperson.

Once projects have been evaluated by the program committee, they may be proposed to the full board for action. There can, of course, be countless variations to the process, which may involve staff, volunteers, and other constituencies, but the standing committees exist to spread out the actual work of running your organization and preparing action items for the board to consider.

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