Board Committees

Posted on Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The board of a nonprofit organization is ultimately responsible for the organization.  However, committees can be useful in assisting the board with its duties.  Committees cannot make governance decisions but it can make recommendations to the board for approval.

Committee structure varies among nonprofits but most nonprofits have a set of standing committees with the option to add ad-hoc committees for special projects.  Common standing committees may include the following.

It is important that the organization not have too many committees since each committee requires board oversight and committee members.  Smaller organizations may not have as many committees as larger organizations.  For example, it’s common for smaller organizations to have only a finance committee that includes audit committee responsibilities, instead of both a finance and audit committee.  Smaller organizations may also utilize committees for work that a paid staff member may have at a larger organization, for example an HR committee.

Depending on the committee and the organization, some committees may allow non board members to serve as committee members.  Executive and governance committees are normally restricted to board members only but other committees may be open to public members. This allows the organization to get more individuals involved and develop a resource for future board members. 

In order for committees to be effective, each should have its own charter that addresses the purpose and responsibilities of each committee.  In addition, it should include whether committee members are restricted to board members.  The committee charters should be approved by the board.

In addition to a charter, each committee should have goals for the year so that it understands its focus and can evaluate its accomplishments.

The use of committees can be an efficient tool in dealing with issues that may be better solved within a small group instead of the full board.  Just remember, that committees cannot act in place of the full board.

Posted by: Carrie Minnich, CPA

Posted in Mission Minded Nonprofits

Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.

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