17. Names for the committee

What are the members of the committee called?

There is a good deal of confusion caused by the use of different terms, nearly all of which are synonyms for governor or trustee (the charity commission’s preferred term).
Common terms;


  • Trustee
  • Governor
  • Management Committee Member
  • Executive Committee Member
  • Board Member
  • Director
  • Company Director
  • Council Member

What is their body/committee called?

Potential confusion continues as there is no single accepted term for this body and organisations are free to call it what they like.

Common terms;

  • The Board
  • The Board of Directors
  • The Trustee Board (or Board of Trustees)
  • The Committee
  • The Management Committee
  • The Executive Committee
  • The Council
  • The Board of Governors
  • etc

What should they be called?

It doesn’t matter that much provided there is a degree of consistency and logic. For example, calling the governors ‘Directors’ when you have staff members with this as a job title is bound to lead to confusion, particularly with trustees from the private/business sector where this is the norm. Similarly, if you call the decision making body the Management Committee but it is referred to by another name in your constitution, again, it will cause confusion. Executive committee is also potentially problematic – many decision making bodies have a sub committee (often consisting of officers i.e. Treasurer, Chair, Secretary) called the executive committee. In this case, of course, the Executive committee is a sub committee, not the ultimate decision making body (even if it has been delegated some powers to make certain decision). If you have an ‘Executive Committee’ and the head of staff is the ‘Executive Director’ then it is not clear who is making decisions and who is executing them.

What are the typical name combinations

The typical name combinations for the members of the committee, the committee itself and the head of staff are:

Voluntary or Community Organisation Management Committee Member The Management Committee Director or Coordinator
Charity Trustee Board of Trustees Chief Executive Officer
NGO Board Member The Board Director General
For-Profit Company Director Board of Directors Executive Director

Note in the case of a for-profit company the Executive Director is both a board member and a staff member – i.e. ‘executes’ instruction, and is therefore quite consistent. In a not-for-profit company the Executive Director would not generally also be a Director of the company and therefore this combination is not logical for use with a nonprofit/charity.

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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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