Need to set up a management committee for your club or community group? Zurich’s latest post has some tips and useful links.
Setting up a committee for your nonprofit group
When running a community group, club or charity, it is good practice to make sure a formal management committee is in place, even if your organisation or project, is too small to register as a charity and therefore hasn’t had to satisfy the requirements of the governing body (i.e. the Charity Commission).
Having a committee helps to ensure that decisions are made collectively and that there are named people working together to manage risk, finances and future plans.
Projects which have grown from a single person’s idea into an organisation with on-going activities, volunteers and income (albeit a small one), at some point should go through processes to formalise their operation.
Whether you are setting up a new group and want to get things clear from the beginning, or you started a community project during the pandemic which you want to continue and grow by registering as a social enterprise or charity, here are some useful links and top tips about forming and running a committee.
What is a committee?
A committee is a group of people who are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day running of the organisation.
The group may be known as a management committee, executive committee, steering committee or board of trustees. The name they are given depends on the kind of organisation they run. For example, if your organisation is a registered charity, committee members are officially called charity trustees.
A committee is made up of people who bring different skills and expertise to the group. The bare minimum of people on a committee is three but it is recommended to have at least five in case a committee member can’t make a meeting. The number, or proportion, of the committee needed to make an official decision will be set out in governing documents.
VODA have an excellent factsheet about the role of a committee member as part of their information about governance.
Creating an effective committee
A committee usually has three core roles within it – the Chair, a treasurer and a secretary. The Resource Centre has a guide about the different roles of officers which explains the components of each role and why it helps to have this clarity about who does what.
If you are looking to expand your committee, this guide about recruiting new committee members, from the Governance Pages has useful tips. You might be doing this because you recognise you need some additional expertise or to reflect different backgrounds or because the circumstances of the current group has changed. This guide also talks about what to do when things go wrong.
Setting and working to standards of good governance can help to avoid difficult situations and conflict. The Charity Governance Code sets out principles and recommended good practice. It is based around seven principles which apply to organisations of any size. NCVO have useful advice about what to do if there are serious trustee disputes.
Sources of help
It can be useful to get advice and guidance specific to your situation by talking with someone. A good place to start is your local CVS. The NAVCA find a member resource will help you to find your local CVS.
If you are thinking of setting up a new charity, it is worth asking yourself some key questions before you get started. Taking on a project like this can be very time consuming. NCVO’s website has a list of questions to help you work out whether it is the right next step. This includes researching whether there are other organisations doing similar work and whether it might be more effective to join forces with them rather than compete for resources.
If you do intend to set up as a charity, this guide from the Small Charity Coalition will help. Charity SetUp is an online tool to take you through the stages of forming and registering. It includes useful information about your organisation’s structure and governing document which are also useful to non-charities.
If you are setting up or managing a group rather than a charity, The Resource Centre have a section of their website with advice which you might find helpful.