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Look here for information and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.

~January 2012~

committee meeting


Some nonprofit organizations are awash in “by-laws dictated” committees. Often it is one person trying to do the work of many. Board members are too few and are forced to serve on more than one committee, in addition to his/her board duties.

Nonprofit “by-law dictated” committees need to be few. Conduct a by-law review and narrow the number of committees that are required. When necessary the President and Board need to create time-delimited committees on an ad hoc basis and only as needed.

What are the MUST-HAVEs?

Finance -- A board treasurer leads a finance committee. Other members can come from those previously serving on the board or people experienced with budget and finance. Be sure the committee also has a minimum of two people who understand the “service” side of the organization. After all, it isn’t all about money. The group is charged with overseeing the budget, financial controls, investments and grants. Depending on the size of the organization and its budget, the committee should have 3-7 members.

Personnel -- A personnel committee is responsible for such things as reviewing paid position descriptions, having a salary and benefits plan, creating an evaluation plan for staff that is carried out by the executive director, and dealing with employment issues. The chair should be very knowledgeable on employment, benefits, and salary schedules. This committee can be small, but needs to be experts and work closely with the executive director or CEO. 3-5 members are good.

Fundraising -- The fundraising committee creates a plan to guide all levels of the organization in seeking out and securing funding from an array of inside and outside sources. They create a comprehensive plan that outlines every effort used to obtain funds, including those small yard sales. Timing of events is coordinated with partner organizations. Planning is arranged to avoid wearing out the staff or the volunteers. Some members of the committee need to be selected as those best to contact current or potential donors, others for counting the “beans,” and others for evaluating and developing new activities or sources of fund raising. This committee needs to be 50% “go-getter” board members and others who enjoy providing the opportunity to allow others to donate. Be sure to have a couple event mavens. No fewer than 5 and no more than 10.


Program -- The program committee oversees the work of the organization, as done by volunteers and paid staff. They develop and monitor all activities related to services delivered to clients, members, or patrons. The job is to evaluate existing services or programs, retire those that are worn out, and find new ways to meet needs. This committee needs people well informed on the programs/services provided by the organization (its mission) and those who can see into the future and suggest programs to meet new needs. 3 – 5 members is sufficient for most program committees.

In organizations with memberships the program committee helps to organize the recruitment efforts as well as monitoring the ebb and flow of membership. This is usually carried out by a sub-committee. In very large organizations this additional function will likely mean having two different committees.

Executive -- When a board of directors is large or geographically scattered, often a smaller group of board members, called the executive committee, is delegated certain powers and in particular circumstances can act on behalf of the full board. This should be spelled out in the by laws. Members are usually officers of the board, with the addition of “subject matter” experts. This might include accountants, attorney, social worker, program specialist, etc.

Boards Today, Boards Tomorrow

10 Handbook Series on All Aspects of the Nonprofit Board:

Meetings, Role of President, Risk Management, Selection of Members and More


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