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Divide and Conquer with These Nonprofit Board Committees

How can you make sure your board members not only know what they should be doing, but that they take ownership of important tasks and keep things moving forward? Nonprofit board committees make it easy.

Your nonprofit board is made up of stellar individuals that are used to working independently and with a team. To make the most of a dynamic group of board members, you need to make sure everyone has clearly defined roles and responsibilities. If you do not, you run the risk of having too much insight in one area and not enough in others. You also increase the risk of conflict between board members and an overall drop in productivity for your organization’s driving force.

nonprofit board of directors committees

What are Board Committees?

Committees allow the work that needs to be done to be distributed evenly throughout your board. This allows for the best allocation of talent and ensures that work gets done. When you break your goals and responsibilities down into more manageable pieces with a clear organizational structure, your board doesn’t have to get bogged down worrying about who is responsible for which task. For most nonprofit boards, committees provide the following benefits:

  • Clearly define responsibilities for specific members
  • Empower committee members to work at their own pace and remove routine tasks from the monthly agenda
  • Put the skills and talents of your board members to the best possible use
  • Research, make recommendations, and present options to the board at large

How to Ensure Nonprofit Board Committees Work for your Brand

Each committee your board creates needs to have its own mission and reason for being. It should also have a defined set of responsibilities. Members should know what they can and can’t do, and whether they can make actual decisions on matters that fall into their subject area.

A committee should have a leader who can help guide the group, report to the board at large, and communicate needs and requests to the organization and staff. Committees should have easy access to key staff members that closely align with their responsibilities and subject area. This ensures that your nonprofit committees can build relationships with staff and know who to reach out to if information or assistance is needed.

Types of Committees

Your board will have its own priorities and preferences for committees. The best way to create your roster of committees is to think about the primary tasks you have and the things you want to accomplish. Most nonprofit boards incorporate the following types of committees, tailored to match their own needs:

  • Executive/Steering Committees: These members, which usually include the chairs from other committees, the board chair and others, take on the “big picture” tasks and steer the group towards success. Planning, creating other committees, creating an agenda for the group, and other large-scale tasks are handled by this group.
  • Standing Committees: These are permanent groups that meet regularly and only change with the arrival or departure of members from the board. These groups help monitor progress, make plans, and report to the main body on their specific subject areas. Standing committees often cover finance, marketing, communications, budgets, and more. Your board recruitment team is also likely a standing committee, sometimes part. This group would be responsible for recruiting new members from the community, onboarding, and tracking terms for board members.
  • Ad-Hoc Work Groups: Some committees are only needed for part of the year or for specific events. If you do annual fundraisers, galas, volunteer gatherings or events and other one-time or yearly programs, a committee may be assembled for each.

Creating clearly defined committees can help your board keep things moving forward by ensuring that everyone knows what they are responsible for and allowing your members to take ownership of important areas or tasks. Incorporating committees into your nonprofit board can have a profound and positive impact on your organization. More importantly, it will make it easier and more rewarding for your board members and the people you serve.


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