The research on successful nonprofit organizations over the years
stresses the importance of well functioning committees. Here are
comments on the structure to build committees.
- Well-Designed Standing Committees. Divide governing work into ‘chewable
chunks,” enable in-depth attention to governing work, build governing
expertise and ownership, and facilitate board-staff interaction.
- Two Key Roles of Standing Committees. Work with CEO and
executive team members in designing detailed governing functions of
the committee: answering content, format, and process questions. Prepare
for Board Meetings: action recommendations and informal reports.
- Keys to Effective Committees. Organize by broad governing
streams; cut across all organizational functions and activities (horizontal
discipline); are not the ‘tip of the administrative iceberg’ or ‘program
- According to Doug Eadie, a model committee structure for a board
of directors is to have Governance, Planning and Program Development,
Performance Oversight, and External Relations committees.
- Executive (Governance) Committee. Headed by board president;
consists of other standing committee chairs and CEO; and serves as
committee on board operations, not as a petite board.
- Executive (Governance) Committee Functions. Develops board
agenda; coordinates standing committee work; handles board human resource
development; monitors board performance; and negotiates CEO performance
targets and evaluates CEO performance.
- Committees Function Well When. Every board member serves on
1 and only 1 committee (except committee chairs); committees are the
only path to the full board agenda; they are led by strong chairs,
and an paid staff person is assigned as chief staff to each committee.
- Take Accountability for Governing Performance. Make the executive
(governance) committee accountable; set board member performance targets;
regularly monitor board member performance; and take corrective action
Adapted from “Extraordinary Board Leadership: The Seven
Keys to High-Impact Governance” by Doug Eadie.
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