What is the role of committees?

Board committees can give extra attention to any part of a board’s business (including finance and audit, remuneration, learning and participation, development) but must have clear terms of reference including any delegated responsibility.

It is usual for an organisation’s constitution to set out a framework for committees, which may include a minimum number of trustees, or other reporting structure.

Membership of committees can include specialist outside knowledge and thus can be a useful way of introducing potential board members to an organisation.

Committees should be chaired by board members so there is a direct line of reporting to the board.

Committees do not have to be long-term and can be set up to deal with a particular project, such as a property committee for a capital scheme.

Advisory groups can also be used to gather feedback and advice, and if they have no decision-making powers, their methods of working can be more informal.

A word of warning: committees can take up a lot of time to organise, attend and minute. Care should be taken to ensure that they are not over-used but give genuine value.

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