Determining board size is a little bit like Goldilocks sampling porridge. A board that’s too small won’t have enough time or capacity to tackle everything your organization needs. But a board that’s too big runs the risk of not being able to engage its many members or stay focused on specific items.
Committees can solve both of these problems.
Breaking your board into focused groups means fewer people have to weigh in on every decision. Smaller groups can divide and conquer to accomplish more. Larger boards can leverage the types of board committees they choose to keep members engaged through topics that interest them.
Different Types of Board Committees
There are many different types of board committees to choose from when it comes to structuring your board. You can mix and match until you strike the right balance for your organization.
Some of the most common types of board committees focus on operations, human resources, finance, communications and marketing, fundraising, and recruitment.
They’re often broken down into some combination of the following:
- An Executive Committee to tend to the most pressing issues of board and organization
- A Fundraising Committee to assist development efforts inside the organization
- A Finance Committee to maintain fiscal oversight of the organization
- A Marketing and Communications Committee to guide messaging strategy
- An Evaluation Committee to keep track of an organization’s progress toward its overarching goals
Fewer committees mean fewer meetings…
...And since your primary goal is to set your board up for success, you want to consider what the right mix is for your organization. Board structures that combine the traditional committees into, for example, Internal vs. External Affairs have gained in popularity in recent years.
Transitioning to a Committee Model
While the specifics of transitioning to a committee model depend on the needs of your organization and the types of board committees you choose, there are some best practices to consider.
For example, choose your committee members based on their interests, qualifications, and available time.
Make sure those who become committee chairs have the ability to dedicate themselves to the extra responsibility.
Make sure each committee has at least 2-3 members. Avoid too many cooks in the kitchen, as well as too few members to get the work done.
Most importantly, make sure the roles and responsibilities of each committee are well defined and understood by all.
When done right, committees can set your board up for long-term success. Learn more! Get access to the extended version of this article and lots of other great resources by joining THE LAUNCHPAD – the NPO Centric's membership program brings regular tips, tricks, and best practices to nonprofit leaders across the country! We'd love to have you join us!