Board Committee Overload

Is your board overloaded with committees? Do you have board members on 2-4 different committees? How effective can volunteers be if they are being overloaded from day one! 

We have seen organizations with 9-10 board members and 11 committees. Who would want to try to keep up with those demands as a volunteer? It is a recipe for disaster. Boards should consider having three to five committees depending on the size of the board. Our suggestion is to have three core committees, which are summarized below:

GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE
This committee is dedicated to discovering, enrolling, on-boarding, engaging, and succeeding board members on a consistent basis. This committee must also ensure participation, assess board performance, and hold other board members accountable to their commitments, and attendance.

FINANCE COMMITTEE
The finance committee ensures proper asset manage, adequate reserves, financial oversight, budget capacity, and surplus investment. This committee should also be forecasting potential financial opportunities and threats based on the developments that reveal themselves from implementing strategy.

DEVELOPMENT & PLANNING COMMITTEE
This committee monitors the outcomes and progress of the existing strategic plan to hold the board and CEO accountable to success. The committee also continuously plans beyond the current time horizon in the existing strategic plan. They also must ensure adequate resources through continuous philanthropic efforts to be able to provide the funds necessary for the CEO to carry out the strategic plan.

These are the three most important committees, and one could argue, the only ones needed for a nonprofit board. Some boards do utilize an executive committee, and in our experience, this tends to become a board-within-a-board, and can alienate general board members. There is no need for this type of committee in most organizations, just like there is little need for having 5-10 committees on any one given board of directors/trustees.

Think strategically and start to whittle down or phase out the number of committees your board has, and watch production and engagement increase.