11. How do you become a committee member?

How do you become a committee member?

The official route for appointing trustees varies from organisation to organisation and should be set out in the organisations constitution. There are generally two methods; appointment or election. Election is the most common and the process may vary from a complex prescribed procedure to a simple agenda item at which your nomination is proposed seconded and agreed. Some organisations will always wait to their AGM; others have powers to do this at any time often through a co-option clause. (Of course those organisations that have no requirement to hold an AGM – such as most Trusts – can generally add trustees at any time.)

Yes, but how do you actually do it in reality?

Get yourself asked (invited)
This is still the overwhelmingly most common way to become a trustee. So you could wait around until that invitation arrives or read on………… Because if you’re reading this then you are clearly interested and there are a number of routes you can take.

So how do I increase my chances of getting an invitation?

The first option is to volunteer for organisation you would like to be on the committee of and therefore greatly increase your chances of receiving that invitation. Many organisations, whether consciously or not, scan volunteers and others known to them to see if they would make good committee members. First identify the organisation you would like to be involved with. Then find out if they have a procedure for recruiting volunteers. Whether there is a formal procedure or the initiative is down to you, you will have to look at what you have to offer (skills, experience, time, knowledge) and what they need. In the absence of a formal procedure ask to speak to a senior staff member or committee member and make your proposal.

Another option is to respond to an advertisement.

Many organisations now advertise for committee members. There are weekly ads in the Guardian, opportunities may be listed with your nearest Volunteer Centre, or you may spot ads on notice boards or in newsletters (so sign up for the newsletter of any organisation you’re interested in). If you are a member of a professional body of any sort you should find out if they have a volunteer notice board (generally on the web site now).

Or you could try getting Elected

Organisations that are strongly community based (clue; they often have an area or neighbourhood name in the organisation’s name) often have an election process. Find out from the Secretary what the process is and follow it. Typically, your nomination needs some support/endorsement that could range from a single seconder to a percentage of the membership. Elections are generally held at the AGM, and any voting is generally by a show of hands. (see also FAQ 25 AGMs)

How complicated is the election process usually?

Use of proxies, secret ballots and ballot slips are generally considered too complicated and expensive for all but the largest Charities – but may be appropriate in some limited circumstances such as when two factions struggle for control of an organisation to ensure an accurate and fair election. Generally there will some opportunity to present a ‘manifesto’ – or at least let members know why you think they should vote for you. This might be written and circulated before the meeting or could just be 60 seconds allotted to each candidate to stand up and address the members in person. Incorporated charities will need a properly completed nomination form to be returned generally 10 days before the AGM.

Next FAQ: Starting on the committee – induction and commitments
Previous FAQ : How do we recruit 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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