23. Sub committees

Does a committee need sub committees?

It depends………… A small, tight-knit committee may find it preferable to conduct nearly all the business together at one meeting. This has the benefit of being an inclusive approach that keeps everyone involved and knowledgeable about all aspects of the committees work. However, there may come a point when your time may be better spent if there is some division of labour. A good indication that this moment has come is when two or three people are in an animated debate that is clearly going over the heads of the rest of the committee (it may be finance, marketing or the intricacies of a project). At this point it probably makes sense to separate those committee members out into their own sub committee. There are two types of sub committee; standing (i.e. permanent) and ad hoc i.e. created for a defined length of time, for instance to run an event.

What is a sub committee remit?

Every sub committee should know what it’s there to do. It need only be six lines in the minutes of the next full committee meeting. Consider addressing these points;
1. Name of sub committee,
2. Its purpose
3. If delegated any specific authority and if so define it (i.e. can the newsletter sub committee authorise spending on printing to a predefined level (such as up to £300)

4. Who the chair is/ how it is chaired,
5. Who the members are
6. How often/when it will meet,
7. How it will report (i.e. verbal report to each full committee meeting),
8. How long it will be in existence,(standing for ongoing sub committees, or ad hoc or defined time limit for sub committees with a time limited purpose such as organising an event) click for sample remit.

What are the common sub committees?

Don’t feel that you have to have subcommittees – and if you do need to add a subcommittee it should be in response to a need. Common subcommittees are:

Project (i.e. to run a defined area of work such as the Newsletter, or running the crèche for example)
Executive/Officers (i.e. the Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and possibly chairs of other sub committee). Useful for planning meetings, for example, but take care that this group does not take over and marginalise the rest of the committee)

Click for editable blank remit template.

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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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