Hey, ED, here's a bit of an advanced topic for you: Using committees to pushpull your board of directors into being efficient, productive, and even a little radical. It's not as far-fetched of an idea as you might think, really. Kind of like that lady in the 80's commercial who makes the Rice Krispie treats—you remember how she fooled her family into thinking she spent hours on those gooey, crispy goodies, don't you?
So let's just get it done, already! Without further ado, here are the committees you need and how to use them to make your kickass board super-effective.
1. Finance Committee
The expectation for this committee is that they'll advise on the creation of your annual budget, carefully consider large expenses, and look out for the financial future of your organization. It's a big job, but by helping you shoulder this load, your nonprofit's stability will be strengthened immeasurably.
But do they need to paw around in your organization's day-to-day budget? No. You and your staff have that covered.
Today, block out a half hour to pull up your budget and mark items that your Finance Committee can monitor, items that your staff should have control over, and items that need research or votes to move forward. Then lay it out. Your staff should be able to focus on ground-level expenses while your board tracks the make-or-break stuff.
- Protip: don't just throw anyone with a businessy-sounding job title on your finance committee. Even if Gretchen is an accountant by day, she may not want to do more number-crunching for your nonprofit; it's possible her real passion lies in networking and fundraising. Let your board members guide you in making committee placements.
2. Fundraising Committee
Here's your big takeaway for this committee: These people should be your org introducers and evangelists so you can run the show. The Fundraising Committee's job is to encourage giving by sharing your mission with the world.
That's it. They shouldn't be planning the events or picking the napkins; this committee should be getting donors to show up, buy tables, and enjoy your fundraising events. And giving money while they're at it.
Email your Fundraising Committee today with specific asks related to upcoming events, holidays, and networking opportunities. Tell them who on your team is handling the detail work of securing venues, writing and sending marketing emails, and choosing napkins—this is not their job, no matter how much they like decorating. Your board members have bigger fish to fry, so don't shy away from giving them concrete, high-level goals and holding them accountable.
3. Recruitment Committee
This committee's purpose is all in the name: Recruitment. Their task is to identify, engage, and onboard people who will be good stewards of your nonprofit's mission to the outside world. As they do their job, they should definitely be keeping a few key things in mind: the diversity of your board, the required duties of a board member, and the type of person the board wants to have representing the nonprofit.
One thing you can do right now to increase the effectiveness of your Recruitment Committee is providing them with a clear idea of the ideal board member—in the Marketing world, this is called a persona—because knowing your who you're looking for makes recruitment a heckuva lot easier. Here's an easy template to start you off!
If you’re looking for that overachiever A+, here are two other committees you may want to consider:
This committee ensures that the nonprofit is adhering to standards laid out by the org's mission. It's their job to speak up when it's time to fire a board member, when your org's mission and vision aren't being adhered to, and when your nonprofit may be running afoul of legal requirements. The Governance Committee also nominates members for board roles and evaluates overall board effectiveness.
Diversity and Inclusion Committee:
This committee helps you respond to the needs of a wide variety of constituents. These are the people who should be researching how your work impacts marginalized populations and figuring out ways to meet those people where they're at. Take a peek at Vu Le's blog nonprofitaf.com for more information on how to bring diversity to your organization through inclusive behavior.
If you need more than a minute's worth of guidance, Funraise has your back. Check out this webinar—it's chock full of advice on building a kickass nonprofit board of directors.