8. Who should we get on the committee?

The Director has told us that each person on the committee should be responsible for a particular area for example, personnel, IT, legal etc. Is this right?

A final draw back of the ‘skills’ approach to recruitment is that it is often the case that a hard pressed head of staff would like the committee to consist of a pool of experts in different areas that can be called on for advice and help. Useful as this is to the staff, there is a danger that the committee come to see their role as a pool of experts simply providing advice to staff on their own topic of expertise and the actual governance of the organisations is neglected. Advice on this topic is often contradictory. Ultimately it is for each committee to decide whether they want to be organised in this way.

So who should be on the committee?

There is no one answer. At a minimum you need a group of people that fulfil your constitutional requirements, take their role seriously and deliver reasonably wise decisions in the organisations best interests. The recipe for the perfect committee would probably be something like; a scattering of experts, some committee members with relevant knowledge (in the subject or about the local area for example), a few individuals with clout among your constituents, funders or other stakeholders, a committee member with a filofax full of useful contacts and maybe some users or members to give the beneficiary perspective.

Who can be on the committee?

You can set your own criteria – for example if you are a neighbourhood organisation then you could specify that everyone must live in that neighbourhood (try to define it as unambiguously as possible). If you are a straightforward ‘unincorporated association’ (i.e. not registered officially as a charity or incorporated) then there are no real limitations on who can be on the committee (though bear in mind that anyone under 18 will not be held responsible if you enter into any contracts). If you think you may want to become a charity in the future it may be useful to look at the Charity Commissions criteria.

Next FAQ: The different perspectives of committee members
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A Word About Words

This site is aimed at those who govern (control) small organisations - whether they are charities, companies, both or neither. Those who govern them may be called a variety of names. We have chosen to use mainly 'management committee' and occasionally 'committee member' or 'trustee'. more...
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