Once Again! Are Three Standing Nonprofit Board Committees Enough?
By: Eugene Fram
Nonprofit boards are often known for the proliferation of board standing committees. Current thinking is to reduce the number substantially. Following is one model, with only three standing committees which has been used by thousands of nonprofit organizations for over 20 years. Ad hoc committees or task forces, are used when needed for investigation of policy decisions and major strategic issues such as changes in pension plans.
- Executive Committee – It consists of the CEO, corporate officers and an at-large member elected by the board. The committee acts for the board between meetings, subject to later board ratification; sets the meeting agendas, reviews reports for board discussion; and appoints all standing committees and ad hoc committees.
- Planning & Resource Committee – It partners with the CEO in strategic planning; in developing the vision what the organization might become in the future, subject to the input of the staff and the input and approval of the full board. Planning & Resource clearly plays an important role, making it easier to keep strategic planning a prominent part of board agendas. This committee also monitors the activities of the ad hoc committees. All ad hoc committees are established for a specific purpose and then disbanded when their work is complete. Example: A nominating committee operates only when needed to fill board vacancies and to develop a slate of new officers.
- Assessment Committee – Along with the CEO, this committee develops drafts of the organizational goals, subject to review by the Executive Committee and approval by the full board. At the end of the year, this committee is responsible for an objective assessment of the CEO’s performances. Where mandated by state law, a part of this committee can act as a formal audit committee. This group also acts as financial monitor, except where a fourth separate finance committee is needed. NOTE: The CEO is responsible for ongoing communications between the Planning & Resource and the Assessment committees
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